Identity thieves are skilled at what they do. There are a few methods used to steal your personal information.
Dumpster diving – They rummage through trash looking for bills and other papers that have your personal information on them.
How to avoid this – When going through your mail, even if its junk mail, open it up and shred the contents. Take all personal documents you need to get rid of to your financial institution and have them shredded if you do not own a shredder.
Skimming – They steal your credit/debit card numbers by using a special storage device when processing your card.
How to avoid this – If you use the ATM, or swipe your card at the gas station, there should be NOTHING on the machine itself. Take your fingers and grab the card swiper and pull. If it comes off, that is the skimming device. Take it into the place of business and tell them what happened. The thieves are close by. If you grab the card reader and it doesn’t come off, you’re fine. I do this at the gas station ALL the time. You get funny looks but hey, it is MY info not theirs, and I’ll take the funny look over having my info stolen any day.
Phishng – The thieves pretend to be your financial institution or companies and send spam or pop up messages to get you to reveal your personal info.
How to avoid this – If you didn’t make the contact, DON’T give out your info. Your financial institution has it, they’ll never call to get it.
Changing your address – They divert your billing statements to another location by completing a “change of address” form.
How to avoid this – Have your bills emailed to you (paperless) instead of mailed.
The old fashions… Stealing – They’ll steal your wallet or purse, mail.
How to avoid this – Don’t keep your purse in your car, keep minimal cards in your wallet or purse. Have a copy of your cards (front and back) in a safe place at home so if your purse does get stolen you have the numbers to call and have them stopped immediately.