Identity theft is so pervasive in today’s society that the Federal Bureau of Investigation cites it as “America’s fastest growing crime problem.” Thieves steal and fraudulently use the personal information of at least 10 million Americans a year, according to the Federal Trade Commission. Informing yourself about how criminals can get your personal information is the best way to protect yourself from this all-too-common occurrence. Here are some of the ways thieves get your personal information:
- Stealing or finding your wallet.
- Digging through your trash.
- Looking over your shoulder as you use an ATM.
Technology has exacerbated the identity theft problem. Finding out PIN numbers has gotten more widespread with the advent of fake card readers, or skimmers, installed at ATMs, credit card readers and gas station pumps. As ID thieves are becoming more sophisticated, your money grows more vulnerable. Other new ways criminals get your information include:
- Gleaning the information of the deceased through reading obituaries.
- Stealing or diverting mail.
- Phishing: Websites impersonating legitimate companies collect customers’ personal data.
If you suspect your identity has been stolen, or to learn more about ways to protect yourself, visit the Federal Trade Commission website: http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/microsites/idtheft/consumers/defend.html
December is Identity Theft Awareness and Prevention Month. Be sure to visit SAFESHRED often to learn more ways to protect yourself and your business.