One of the things that makes identity theft so problematic is how a criminal can put your information to so many different uses. They can make payday loans in your name or open new bank accounts. They can even apply for a passport or ask for a tax refund.
However, they can only do this if they manage to obtain your confidential information.
In this post, we’ll list a small selection of the different kinds of identity theft and how to protect yourself against them.
You’re using an ATM to withdraw some cash, and the person waiting behind you seems to be looming over you, trying to see you type in your PIN.
This person is shoulder surfing. Shoulder surfing is when an identity thief tries to obtain your confidential information while standing close by.
In most instances, you can protect yourself against shoulder surfing by simply using your body to hide your information. If that isn’t possible, then it may be better to postpone giving your information until you’re confident no identity thief is around.
It is worth noting that even a store clerk can be an identity thief. You should be wary if a store clerk asks for more information than they need or if they appear to do anything suspicious with your details.
You go to an ATM to withdraw cash, and you do so without incident, but the card slot looks a little different than usual
You may have been a victim of an ATM skimmer. Such a device records your credit card details as you put it in the ATM. This will usually be combined with a small camera or a shoulder surfer to discover your PIN.
You can protect yourself against skimmers by inspecting an ATM’s credit card slot and making sure nothing has been placed in front of it.
Hand-held devices can also be used to skim your details. For example, if you pay for a meal at a restaurant with your credit card, the waiter or waitress could secretly scan your credit card through a hand-held skimmer.
You put your bin out for the garbage truck the next morning, but in the middle of the night, an unknown figure starts to rifle through your trash.
This person is dumpster diving. Dumpster diving, as you have probably figured out, is when an identity thief tries to obtain confidential information from your rubbish.
Protecting yourself from dumpster diving is as simple as being wary of what you throw away and shredding any confidential documents before discarding them.
You see an item you like in an online store. You give the store your credit card details and order the item. It arrives in a few days and everything seems fine.
It is possible that in such a situation you have been the victim of spyware. If your computer is infected with spyware, then any information stored on or put through your computer will be sent to identity thieves. This is one of the most common types of identity fraud.
You should always use an up-to-date anti-virus and firewall to protect yourself from spyware and scan your computer regularly for viruses.
There are plenty of free options you can use:
• AVG Free
• Comodo Internet Security
• Spybot Search & Destroy
• AdAware Free
More than anything else, you should be wary about what you (and other users of the computer) download and what websites you visit.
You could consider using a separate computer solely for the purpose of storing confidential information and banking. This means that your kids can have their fun online without you having to worry about them infecting your computer with spyware.
You get an e-mail that appears to be from your bank. It tells you that you need to log in immediately to update your details. You do so.
You may have just been the victim of a phishing scam. Phishing is when criminals create a website that impersonates a real website in order to capture your details.
You can protect yourself from phishing scams by being wary when a company contacts you unexpectedly. Regardless of whether it is e-mail or a telephone call, if you cannot be sure that the person on the other side is who they say they are, then it is better to not risk giving out your details.
Instead, if you do receive an email or phone number call their normal business number which can be found on their website and ask them about the issue.
There are many different types of identity theft – many more than can be listed in this short post. You should now have an idea of the different identity theft methods out there, and how you can protect yourself against them.
Be aware of how you store your information and who you give it to. When it comes to identity theft, it is better to be safe than sorry. One proactive approach to protect yourself from identity theft is to consider an identity theft program.