Common Practices
Thieves use a variety of illegal techniques to obtain identity information. They may:
  • Take mail from a mailbox
  • Divert mail to another location by filling out a change of address form
  • Go through trash to find identification and financial documents
  • Access credit reports by posing as landlords or employers
  • Hack into personal computers
  • Pose as legitimate companies or government agencies to request personal information via email (called phishing)
  • Steal hard copy or electronic files from your workplace
  • Stand close to you at the ATM to learn your Personal Identification Number
  • Work at restaurants, gas stations, or other businesses to steal money or information from credit/ATM/debit cards (called skimming).
Once identity thieves have your personal information, they may use it to:
  • Charge on existing credit accounts
  • Open new credit accounts in your name
  • Use existing or open new checking accounts in your name and write bad checks
  • Establish phone or wireless service in your name
  • Use your debit cards or counterfeit checks to drain your checking account
  • Take out loans to buy cars and other big ticket items



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