How Does Identity Theft Happen?
Identity theft occurs when personal information is not protected or provided to an unauthorized person by the victim or obtained by illegal means. A victim can unknowingly provide financial and banking information, a social security number and personal information to a thief if contacted via phone or email by an individual posing as a representative of a banking institution or credit card company. Identity thieves may use illegal means to access personal information such as, hacking into corporate or government databases or stealing mail.
Protect Your Identity , FINRA
Identity theft can be divided into six major categories:
- Business/commercial identity theft (using another's business name to obtain credit)
- Criminal identity theft (posing as another person when apprehended for a crime)
- Financial identity theft (using another's identity to obtain credit, goods and services)
- Identity cloning (using another's information to assume his or her identity in daily life)
- Medical identity theft (using another's identity to obtain medical care or drugs)
- Child identity theft
Here are some common techniques used by identity thieves:
- Retrieving personal data from computers, cell phones and other electronic storage that have been disposed without personal and financial information being properly removed;
- Observing users typing credit/calling card numbers into ATMs or point of sale terminals, this is known as shoulder surfing;
- Advertising bogus job offers in order to accumulate resumes and applications that contain the applicant’s personal information such as their names, home address, social security numbers; and
- Browsing social networking websites such as Facebook and Twitter for personal details published by users.