Identity Theft is a common term used for crimes in which someone wrongfully obtains and uses another's personal information without their knowledge to commit fraud and other crimes.
Identity Theft is committed in a number of different way. These include:
- Shoulder Surfing: Watching you punch in credit card and ATM numbers.
- Dumpster Diving: Going through your trash or a communal dumpster to obtain copies of checks, credit card/bank statements or other records which bear your personal information.
- Mail Theft: Stealing incoming and outgoing mail to obtain checks, pre-approved credit card applications, credit card/bank statements and tax information.
- Wallet or purse Theft: Theft of a purse or wallet using distraction techniques, from inside vehicles or items left unattended in a shopping cart.
- Skimming: Stealing credit card and debit card numbers as the card is being processed to pay for purchases, using a special data collection device known as a "skimmer".
- Phone and Internet: Trickery is often used to obtain personal information such as prize winnings and account updating. Only give personal information to someone to whom you initiated the contact. "If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is."
- Spoofing or Phishing: When thieves set up look-a-like websites of legitimate businesses. They trick customers into entering their personal information by sending e-mail messages that warn them that their account is about to expire or has been accessed illegally.
- Employees at businesses preserve personal information such as car dealerships and medical offices.