How Does Identity Theft Happen?

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  • Identity thieves can steal wallets or purses or dig through mail

  • They can use ATM “skimmers” to get card numbers

  • They may use “phishing” emails designed to steal sensitive information

Identity thieves have gotten more sophisticated in their methods. The following includes some of the ways identity theft may occur:

  • Steal wallets or purses in order to obtain identification, credit and bank cards;
  • Dig through mail and trash in search of bank and credit card statements, pre-approved credit card offers, tax information and other documents that may contain personal details;
  • Fill out change-of-address forms to forward mail, which generally contains personal and financial information;
  • Buy personal information from an inside, third-party source, such as a company employee who has access to applications for credit;
  • Obtain personnel records from a victim’s place of employment;
  • “Skim” information from an ATM — this is done through an electronic device, which is attached to the ATM, that can steal the information stored on a credit or debit card’s magnetic strip;
  • Swipe personal information that has been shared on unsecured websites or public Wi‑Fi;
  • Steal electronic records through a data breach;
  • “Phish” for electronic information with phony emails, text messages and websites that are solely designed to steal sensitive information; or
  • Pose as a home buyer during open houses in order to gain access to sensitive information casually stored in unlocked drawers.
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