13+ Things an Identity Thief Won’t Tell You
Criminals are after your personal information and money. Protect yourself from fraud with these secrets from former identity thieves.
1. Watch Your Back
In line at the grocery store, I’ll hold my smartphone like I’m looking at the screen and snap a picture of your card as you’re using it. Next thing you know, I’m ordering things online-on your dime.
3. Late Bills Aren’t Always a Good Thing
If a bill doesn’t show up when it’s supposed to, avoid breathing a sigh of relief. Start to wonder if your mail has been stolen.
4. That’s Me…
…driving through your neighborhood at 3 a.m. on trash day. I fill my trunk with bags of garbage from different houses, then sort later.
You throw away the darnedest things-preapproved credit card applications, old bills, expired credit cards, checking account deposit slips, and crumpled-up job or loan applications with all your personal information. It’s why you should always shred these before you throw them out.
6. It’s Easy
I use your credit cards all the time, and I never get asked for ID.
A helpful hint: I’d never use a credit card with a picture on it.
7. It’s Easy to Impersonate You
I can call the electric company, pose as you, and say, “Hey, I thought I paid this bill. I can’t remember-did I use my Visa or MasterCard? Can you read me back that number?” I have to be in character, but it’s unbelievable what they’ll tell me.
9. Your Unlocked Mailbox is a Gold Mine
I can steal your account numbers, use the convenience checks that come with your credit card statement, and send in pre-approved credit offers to get a card in your name. Stealing mail is easy. Sometimes, I act like I’m delivering flyers. Other times, I just stand there and riffle through it. If I don’t look suspicious, your neighbors just think I’m a friend picking up your mail.
10. The More Things Change, the More they Stay the Same
Even with all the new technology, most of us still steal your information the old-fashioned way: by swiping your wallet or purse, going through your mail, or dumpster diving.
12. The Easiest Online Targets Often Use…
When I send out e-mails “phishing” for personal information by posing as a bank or online merchant, I often target Hotmail users. They just seem less computer literate-and more likely (I hope) to fall for my schemes. It’s why you should never volunteer banking or personal information online.
13. It’s Safer (for me) in Public
I never use my home computer to buy something with a credit card that isn’t mine. That’s why you can often find me at the public library.
(Photo: Wavebreak Media/Thinkstock)
15. Sometimes I Pose as a Salesman
I go into a small office, and after I make my pitch, I ask the secretary to make me a copy. Since most women leave their purses on the floor by their chairs, as soon as they leave the room, I grab their wallet. I also check the top and bottom right-hand drawers of their desks, where I often find company checks.
16. How Much Does your Information Cost?
I can buy stolen account information-your name, address, credit card number, and more-for $10 to $50 per account from hackers who advertise on more than a dozen black market web sites.
(Photo: iStockphoto/Thinkstock )
18. Convenience Has a Cost
Sure, it may be nice not to have to put in your password when you use an unsecured Wi-Fi connection. But know this: We have software that can scoop up all the data your computer transmits, including your passwords and other sensitive information.
(Photo: Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock)