Identity theft occurs when someone steals someone else's identity and
it only becomes a crime known as identity fraud when they use the personal
information to buy, obtain or use something in that persons name. When
a fraudster knows key details about you, they can often use that to
get the more sensitive personal information that they need to purchase
items online, get more services, charge bills to your name and commit
Below are the most common ways identity theft occurs.
- Having your purse or wallet stolen.
Your purse or wallet more than likely contains bank and credit cards
and valuable identity documents including your driving license and
membership cards . When we have our wallet pick pocketed or your purse
snatched most of us are worried about cancelling cards but often we
do not realise the value of the information contained within your
wallet – information that can be used to set up other accounts.
If your wallet or purse is stolen you should report it to the police
and get advice from companies like CIFAS.
- Unsolicited Phone Calls.
Phone calls claiming to be from banks or market research companies
asking you to update your personal information or answer a few simple
questions should be regarded with caution. Any information given in
good faith could actually be used against you. When in doubt, try
contacting the company in question to verify that it is not a scam.
- Bin Raiders.
Bin raiders go through the rubbish you throw out, looking for any
sort of document that contains any personal details and information
on you, no mater how small or insignificant you may think it is. Why
do they do this? Well bin raiding isn't a crime. Organised criminal
gangs will pay bin raiders for each document that contains personal
information that they could then use to steal your identity. These
documents could include telephone bills, insurance documents, bank
statements, old gas and electricity bills, and even personal letters
and envelopes they were sent in. The only way to safeguard against
bin raiders and identity theft in this way is to invest in a paper
shredder. ABT has the largest selection – over 300 makes
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- Card skimming.
Card skimming occurs when a waiter or shop assistant, for example,
gets your information by copying or ‘skimming’ your credit
card details when you make a purchase. This information is not often
used by that person; instead it is sold on to professional criminal
Be wary of any unsecured internet sites asking for personal details
that you may not think terribly important – like your mother’s
maiden name. This with other bits of valuable information may be all
that’s needed to obtain credit in your name. Fraudsters can
also steal your identity by sending an email claiming to be from a
bank, credit card company or other organisation, with which you might
have a relationship, asking for urgent information. This is called
phising. Be very wary, no mater how professional or realistic it all
looks. Things to look out for are emails that ask you to click on
a link to enter your account details on the company’s website
to protect against fraud or to avoid your account being deactivated.
- Mail Forwarding – by completing change-of-address
forms to redirect your mail fraudsters can receive a wealth of information
about you delivered direct to their doorstep.
- Corporate identity theft is also common. There are publicly
available company records that fraudsters can easily get a hold of.
This coupled with other information found in various ways could enable
fraudsters to trade off the back of the real company’s good
name and obtain goods and services on credit from suppliers. Fraudsters
can also obtain signatures from public records and then attempt to
attack a company’s bank account by purporting to be the signatory
on the account.
- Impersonating the dead. It is known that some fraudsters
use the identities of deceased people to carry out fraudulent activity.
This is done by noting the age, date of birth and address of deceased
people from announcements relating to the death or the funeral.
These are just some of the ways identity theft can occur.