How can Identity Theft happen?
ID Theft can occur in daily consumer transactions in a variety of ways, for example:
Skimming – This occurs when you give your credit or debit card to a waiter at a restaurant, store, etc., and the waiter disappears with your card momentarily. While out of sight, the waiter slides your card through an illegal device the size of a pager, known as a skimmer. The skimmer captures and stores data contained on the magnetic strip of your card. The information from the skimmer is later uploaded to a computer. It is then downloaded onto a blank card that becomes a perfect counterfeit of yours. Since your card is not actually stolen, it could take up to a month before you notice the unauthorized account transactions.
Mail Theft – Don’t mail bill payments from your residential mail box. A single theft will reveal your bank and checking account numbers along with your personal identifying information. Instead, place all bill payments in a US Postal Service mailbox. If possible, use a post office box to receive your bills and other mail. This makes it more difficult for thieves to associate account numbers with you and your home address.
Dumpster Diving – If a business discards papers (loan applications, receipts, etc) without shredding them, a dumpster diver may retrieve this information from the business’ trash container, then sell or use this information to obtain credit. Also, if the consumer does not cross-cut shred their documents that contain personal identifying information (pre-approved offers of credit, etc.), a thief may steal this from the victim’s trash.
Purse or Wallet is Lost or Stolen – If your wallet or purse is lost or stolen, you must take immediate action. First contact your credit card issuers to inform them of the situation and cancel your credit cards. Call your bank to cancel your Debit / ATM card and/or checks. Next, report the incident to the law enforcement agency that has jurisdiction where the incident occurred.
What is Identity Theft?
Rapid Response Tips
If You Become a Victim
Additional Resources and Quick links:
- Medical Identity Theft:
- ID Theft Help for Victims:
- Organize your case:
- Request free Credit Report:
- ID Theft Affidavit:
Credit Reporting Agencies
- Federal Trade Commission:
- Social Security Administration:
- US Dept of Justice:
- Federal Bureau of Investigation:
- Opt-out of pre-approved offers of credit:
- Opt-out of national mailing lists:
- Remove email address from national list:
- Opt-out of telemarketing lists:
- Top ten opt-out list:
Credit Card Companies
- American Express:
- Diner’s Club: