How many times in your life have you wanted to start over or switch places with somebody? We've all thought about it at some point. You might be surprised, but there are people out there who would be thrilled to do that with your life — or at least your name.
Shredding mail before throwing it away and putting a firewall on your home internet connection are some common habits professionals will advise you to do. Here are some tactics identity thieves are using that you wouldn't likely suspect.
Texting Your Family From Your Stolen Phone
Be careful how you list your family's names in your cell phone address book. Texting "Hubby" or "Mom" on a stolen cell phone and asking them to send a PIN is quite possibly the most unexpected but effective way to steal a person's life savings. List family members in you phone under their name or anything besides their relationship to you.
Furthermore, if a friend or family member texts you and asks for personal information about themselves, or for their banking information, always verify who is on the other end of the phone before sending it.
Children have sparkling clean credit in the eyes of the credit-issuing industry. Criminals target children because it's easier to get away with stealing their good name for the long term. High school student Adam Brackin's identity was stolen when he was only a few months old. His mother Angie had no way of knowing anything was wrong until she received a phone call when Adam was in the fourth grade asking why he hadn't reported thousands of dollars he earned from working in a factory.
That phone call alerted Angie to the problem, and she and Adam have been battling it ever since. They know exactly who the perpetrator is. It's a man named Marco Lopez, and he's still at it. Studies suggest that identity theft is more common in cases with children than it is with adults. Safeguard your children's information to prevent it from happening to them. It's just one of a whole slew of identity theft methods that people can use to steal identities.
Phishing Through Social Networking Sites
Be even more cautious with social networking as you are with email scams. Too often, people let their guard down on these sites because they trust that the name on the screen is their friend or family member. Social network phishing is becoming just as effective for stealing identities as email phishing.
It's also incredibly important to instill a sense of defensiveness in your children as they start to sign up for social networking accounts. Teenagers are easy targets for social networking phishing due to their social nature and lack of experience. Teach them to never give personal information online; always call the person on the phone or give it in person. Even bits of information that seem insignificant, such as their date of birth, could be all a thief needs to complete their plan to steal your child's identity.
Hacking or Stealing Job Applications
You're looking for a job. You apply for about a dozen jobs and don't think twice about writing or typing in your personal information, including your fullname, date of birth, and social security number. The information asked on those job applications is everything a criminal needs to steal your name, and then some. Consider filling the form out, but leaving the date of birth and social security number off. Indicate that your full information will be given upon hire.
In this age where we're as likely to talk to our mothers on the phone as we are to email them or poke them on Facebook, we are making it easier for cyber criminals and identity thieves to do their worst. If you keep your guard up and are careful with your information, your chances of falling victim will be greatly reduced. Criminals are getting creative — it's time for the rest of us to get crafty too.