Identity theft is a commonplace crime throughout the world. According to a 2019 report by Consumer Sentinel Network, 3.2 million identity theft and fraud complaints were reported in the United States alone.
But identity theft has not always been this prevalent. Cases of this criminal act have continued to increase as technology advances.
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Identity theft has been around for years. Before the internet, however, thieves would dumpster dive to look for important documents such as credit cards, receipts, checks, and bills. Purse snatching and stealing of wallets to use the victims’ documents in some criminal activity was also common.
While identity thieves are not entirely above these conventional methods, they’ve now taken identity theft a notch higher. Scammers and cybercriminals now use much more sophisticated methods to steal personal and financial information from unsuspecting victims.
Thankfully there are various methods to prevent identity theft, as this guide describes. But while identity theft may not have happened to you yet, having this knowledge will help protect your identity better in the future.
Some of the latest techniques identity thieves use to steal from you.
1. Social engineering
It is in human nature to help when they can. Criminals know this and will exploit it by reaching out to you as legit organizations you can trust.
They may use bogus employment schemes, conduct surveys and contests, obtain credit reports or pre-text. While the information you share may seem inconsequential, it doesn’t take long for them to get everything else they need to steal and/or sell your identity.
2. Using malware, spyware, and software
Today, businesses are providing lots of new online services through apps and websites. From shopping, eating, commuting to online banking, these services require customers to share a lot of personal information. If a data breach happens to a company with your details such as Uber, Lyft, or retail stores, thieves could get access to your personal information and use it to commit a crime.
3. Internet of things identity theft
Intelligent, connected technology is now part of everything we do. Lights, thermostats, fridges, watches, cars, and others now feature smart assistants.
As these devices become part of our daily life, security has become a major concern. Hackers can now infiltrate these intelligent, inanimate devices and access your sensitive personal information.
4. Synthetic identity theft
Synthetic ID fraud is among the fastest-growing types of identity theft. It often happens when criminals create a new identity by combining the victim’s fake and real (usually stolen from the victim) information.
Whether they use the new identity to make purchases or open accounts, the crime may go unnoticed for months or even years, making the damages quite extensive for the victim. Signs of synthetic identity theft will include getting mail addressed to another name or receiving phone calls or mail asking about new credit accounts.
5. Skimmer devices
Skimmers, small handheld devices, can also be used to copy your credit card information. The illegal act is often committed by people you wouldn’t suspect, such as hotel employees, store clerks, and waitresses.
Once the thief has your information, they may sell the identity to other criminals or make and sell duplicate credit cards.
In modern days, there’s no limit to how identity thieves can steal your personal and financial information.
Whether the criminals use the information to file tax returns or take control of your finances, identity theft can have devastating consequences. The sad bit is that you may not realize that you have been compromised until when you face the repercussions of identity theft.
So, it’s always a good idea to safeguard yourself from identity thieves.