The Tricks Thieves Use To Steal Your Identity

What's Next In Payments®
1:35 PM EDT January 29th, 2013

Odds are you’re aware that identity theft is a big problem in today’s world, but how do thieves obtain your personal information in the first place?

Cintas, a document management company, aims to tackle that question through their profile of typical ID theft schemes, and the results may surprise you. For example, did you know children are far more likely to become ID theft victims than adults, and that what you throw in the trash is just as important as what you keep online?

PYMNTS.com takes a look at some of the more common methods Cintas cites, as well as how you can protect yourself.

One Man’s Trash…

According to Cintas, “dumpster diving” is one way criminals obtain credit card information, as anything with your Social Security Number, drivers license info or bank account can easily be used to threaten the security of your identity. The article even cites examples of criminals filling out pre-approved credit card applications in your name, then receiving viable cards days later. To protect against this, Cintas recommends shredding any sensitive documents before discarding them, and to air on the side of shredding more documents than you may even need to.

Kids Are At Risk

Cintas cites a report by AllClear ID that states that children are up to 35 percent more likely to be victims of identity theft than are adults, and that such theft can go unnoticed for years as they are typically not financially active. To fight against child fraud, keep all documents with your child’s information safe, get a firm grasp on who has access to that information and familiarize yourself with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).

Conventional Theft

Identity theft is more commonly associated with online fraud, but regular old pickpockets can compromise your personal information too. Stolen wallets and phones contain a bevy of personal information, and if you’re a victim of this kind of theft, you need to immediately contact the police, notify your creditors and dispute unauthorized claims. Password-protecting your smartphone is hugely helpful here, too.

Online Security

This is the type of identity threat people are likely most familiar with, and it’s very real: hackers expend a tremendous amount of energy attempting to gain access to personal information because the payoff can be huge. Cintas emphasizes the importance of keeping anti-malware software up to date and only downloading from sites you trust, as well as ensuring that hold hard drives are properly destroyed when upgrading computers.

To read about other types of typical identity thieve and what you can do to protect yourself, check out the complete Cintas breakdown here

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