Identity theft can start when someone gets and misuses your personal information such as your name and Social Security number, credit card number or other financial account information. The thieves might use a variety of methods to steal your information, including:
- Skimming: Stealing credit/debit card numbers by using a special device on ATMs or when processing a purchase
- Phishing: Pretending to be a financial institution or other company and sending email or pop-up messages to get you to reveal your personal information
- Pretexting: Pretending to be you when they call financial institutions, phone companies and other sources to get additional information
- Redirecting your mail: Filling out a change-of-address form to have your billing statements sent to an address they choose
- Old-fashioned stealing: Stealing wallets and purses, mail (including bank and credit card statements), pre-approved credit offers, new checks or tax information; they can even steal a company’s personnel records or enlist employees who have access to your information
- Dumpster diving: Searching through trash looking for bills or other paper with your personal information on it.