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Avoid These 3 Identity Theft Tricks

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The crime of besmirching the good name of another is as old as the hills, though what we have come to know as identity theft has skyrocketed since the dawn of the Digital Age. Using methods both old fashioned and cutting edge, identity criminals have created an amazing amount of paranoia among the general populace in a short period of time. Here are three of their favorite ways to get at your private information.

1.Dumpster Diving
Good old dumpster diving is still alive and well. For thieves, it’s a simple matter of rifling through garbage cans and dumpsters in search of items with personal identifying information. Favorite targets are canceled checks, credit card or bank statements, or even a telephone bill. Armed with such info and a healthy dose of chutzpah, a determined criminal can begin opening accounts in your name. Here’s a good old-fashioned dumpster diving video.

2. Shoulder Surfing
Another common technique of obtaining credit card information, debit card PIN numbers, and calling card info is referred to as shoulder surfing. Beware the person standing just off your shoulder who appears to be engaged in an innocent activity, perhaps a phone call, while you’re reading off a credit card number on your own phone, or handing your plastic over to a clerk at a car or hotel reservation desk. Eavesdropping isn’t that hard! Another high risk area is an ATM machine. Not only should you be concerned about the dude hanging too close over your shoulder, but don’t forget about the guy at a perfect angle across the street to spy on your particular button selections with a pair of small binoculars.

3. Spam Clicks
We’re not talking a mysterious luncheon meat here. The tried and true unsolicited mass email attack strategy continues full force because it works. Don’t be the sap who falls for one of these “too good to be true” schemes. If the email is from an unfamiliar source but asks for personal identifying information, delete it! Ditto even if it appears to be from a trusted source like your bank or the IRS. It’s easy enough to include a fake logo in the email and include a link to a fake “official” website. If you suspect the request for data is genuine, pick up the telephone and call the organization to confirm.

There are horror stories of people being taken for hundreds of thousands of dollars, including credit card charges and even unwanted mortgages. This is serious, life-altering stuff, people. Take due precaution with your sensitive information. For more information about securing yourself against identity theft, visit the Department of Justice website.

The Holistic Survival Team

 

Flickr / Don Hankins

 

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