Between 1998 and 2003, the FTC reported that more than 27 million Americans had been the victims of identity theft. Each of those victims has their own stories about identity theft. Below you will find some examples which illustrate the wide array of methods these thieves can use to take your most precious possession: your identity.
If you have never heard the term phishing before, you may already have been a victim. The practice involves using some type of lure to catch you and convince you to willingly give up your financial information. One of the most common methods is to send an email or text message warning that a problem has occurred with your bank account. To correct the problem, the bank needs your password. Or, you are promised a huge amount of money thanks to winning a lottery outside of the country. To get the winnings, you have to provide all of your personal information, including your social security number. Countless stories about identity theft through these phishing techniques can be found online.
Stealing for Information
One of the most common methods of identity theft is literally theft. Think of all the personal information you have right now in your purse or wallet. If someone would steal it, all of that information would be in their hands and at their disposal. Even if you act quickly and cancel all of your credit cards and close your checking account, you may not be able to stop them from opening new accounts using your personal information. Millions of Americans have experienced these stories about identity theft firsthand.
Changing Your Address for Information
Although we do not hear about it as frequently, some thieves will steal the mail right out of your mailbox to get information about you. Sometimes they will go even further and change your address using a simple form available at the post office. Then all of your personal information comes to their home, including your new debit or credit cards, bank statements, and more.
The Bottom Line
Regardless of what method is being used, the most important aspect of all stories about identity theft is that the potential victims can usually protect themselves if they know what steps to take. They also need to know how to respond quickly when problems do arise.