Unfortunately, identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in America today. It’s a crime that you may think only happens to other people but when it happens to you, it sends you into a fast downward spiral. In today’s society, there are several scams that thieves use to obtain your personal information for their benefit. We are going to talk about 5 of those scams today.
Dumpster Diving-Thieves are not too proud to go rummaging through trash. In fact, some of them thrive on the information in your garbage. Imagine that you are going through your mail one day and throw away a pre-approved credit card offer. You don’t think anything of this. You did not apply for the card and so you throw it into the garbage. Then you have a couple of utility bills that you finish writing checks for and throw those statements away as well. The next day is trash pickup day so conveniently put your garbage cans out to be picked up but instead of being picked up by the garbage men, they are picked up by a thief who has just hit the information lottery. With the information in these statements, he can open a new credit card (or several) and change the billing address so that you will be completely oblivious until it’s too late.
Mail Stealing-Most of us, these days, have a community mailbox instead of the mail box on our doorstep or out in front of our houses. Either way, you are a target for a thief to steal your mail. If they get a chance, they can access checks, bank statements, credit card statements and tax information.
Shoulder Surfing-Thieves have become so skilled at watching from afar when you put in your pin that they can determine those numbers just by the motion of your hands on the pin pad. Phone cameras have made things a bit easier for these pesky bandits as well. Think they cannot do much harm with your pin if they don’t physically have your card in hand? Read on..
ATM Skimming-This one has been in the news recently but thieves have been using it for awhile now. They actually build a device that fits onto the ATM card reader. If they are genius enough to figure this out, why don’t they get a real job? This device allows them to get hundreds of card numbers in a very short period of time. In some cases, they fabricate something that fits over the machine so that you don’t use the machines actual pin pad, you use something on top of it. With a small camera recording your pin number, they have all the information they need.
Telephone Scams-How many calls do you get every week asking for a charitable donation or asking for your participation in a survey? If anyone calls you and asks for your personal information such as a credit card number or social security number etc, this should be a strong warning sign to you that something is not right. Most charities would be glad to send an information packet out to you upon your request detailing how to make a donation to the organization.
If this article has not already prompted you to start thinking of ways to safeguard yourself, here are a couple of tips:
Shred any mail that you’re going to throw away that has any personal information.
Make sure that you are getting your mail by keeping track of your billing cycles on credit cards and utility bills as well as bank statements.
Protect your ATM pin; cover the pin pad while you are using it if you have to. If an ATM that you always use looks funny or different, don’t use it.
Never give out your personal information over the phone to a stranger or via email. You never know who is on the other end.