March 18, 2018
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Identity Theft How it Works

According to the Federal Trade Commission, identity theft ranks number one on the list of top complaints, with credit card fraud the most prevalent type. Criminals usually commit identity theft to get money, goods, or services, as well as to obtain documents such as false drivers’ licenses, birth certificates, social security numbers, or visas. It can be devastating for consumers because of the long-term damage it causes. Knowing how the thieves get your information will help you protect yourself.

Identity thieves use a variety of methods to steal your personal information, including:

• Looking in Dumpsters. They rummage through trash looking for bills or other papers with your personal information on it.
• Skimming. They get credit/debit card numbers by using a special storage device when processing your card.
• Phishing. They pretend to be financial institutions or companies and send spam or pop-up messages online to get you to reveal your personal information.
• Changing Your Address. They divert your billing statements to another location by filling out a “change of address” form.
• “Old-Fashioned” Stealing. They steal wallets and purses; mail, including bank and credit card statements; pre-approved credit offers; and new checks or tax information. They steal personnel records from their employers, or bribe employees who have access.

Common Types of ID Theft

• Credit card fraud 25%
• Phone or Utilities fraud 16%
• Bank fraud 16%
• Employment-related fraud 14%

• Government Documents or Benefits fraud 10%
• Loan fraud 5%
• Other 25%

Security experts predict that these crimes will only increase as electronic transactions become more and more common.

For more information, go to the Federal Trade Commission’s Identity Theft site at



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