Identity Theft

Identity theft is a serious crime and it is on the rise. The Federal Trade Commission reports that 9 million people were victims of identity theft last year, a 13% increase from the prior year. Identity theft is often thought of as an Internet crime but, you can be victimized by ID theft in many other ways.

What Is Identity Theft and How Does it Occur? Identity theft is when a person wrongfully obtains your personal information and uses it to commit fraud or steal money. Identity thieves use a variety of methods to steal personal information. These methods can range from robbery of personal items (such as a wallet, pocket book or personal computer) to very sophisticated high tech assaults and attacks. Some of the techniques used today include:

  • Phishing: spam or pop-up messages that appear to be from a trusted company or financial institution, when in fact they are not, and aim to get people to reveal personal information.
  • Spear Phishing: a fraudulent email that targets a specific organization, seeking unauthorized access to confidential data.
  • Pharming: redirecting people to a fake website.
  • Skimming: credit and debit card numbers are stolen using a special storage device when processing a card.
  • Pretexting: using false pretenses to obtain personal information.
  • Address Change: billing statements are diverted to another location by completing a change of address form.
  • Dumpster Diving: refers to rummaging through trash looking for items that may contain personal information such as bills or other documents.