There was once a time when no one would even think to impersonate someone else. That time has far passed, as there are millions of illicit actors out there. From hackers to identity thieves, one thing is certain – their goal is to make an easy buck.
Criminals are lurking in the shadows, waiting to take advantage of your one wrong move. If you slip up just once, your identity could get compromised at any point. In fact, it’s not abnormal for an identity thief to re-use your information years later.
The recovery process can be a real headache. But, if you are lucky you can prevent the issue before it surfaces. To do so, you need to know of all the potential ways one could breach your personal security.
To better protect yourself, take a look below at 7 crazy, but obvious ways someone can steal your identity.
1) A keylogger gives it all away
The advancement of technology aids both the good and bad people of this world. For identity thieves, it means a greater number of ways they can steal people’s identities. While keyloggers are not the most common method for stealing identity, they are very effective. When this program is on your device, the attacker can track every single keystroke you make.
You could download the keylogger or virus on accident, or someone around you could upload it. An attacker could do this through remote desktop and other computer sharing apps. Or, someone with direct access to your computer could install it. The latter is more common when targeting a high profile individual.
For example, computer repair specialists work on contract with local businesses. It’s a normal practice, but it also means the businesses are trusting the specialists. These “expert” repairmen could have other intentions. It just takes a few seconds to download a keylogger onto your computer. If you do not get to watch everything they do, then you might be gambling on your information.
2) A neighbor or roommate invades your privacy
If someone has easy access to paperwork in your home, or documents in your mailbox, they can steal your identity with ease. Too much confidential information goes through your mailbox, and it’s hard to know when your mail gets stolen. This is one of those scenarios where you tend to find out the severity of the issue once the damages are done.
In around 1 in 6 cases of identity theft, the victim knows the thief. If you are in a situation where someone can spy your confidential information, boost your privacy. It might be a hassle, but sometimes it’s worth going as far as blocking mail to your home. If you invest in a mailbox right in the post office, you do not have to worry about your mail getting read or stolen.
Even worse, being close to someone means they can reach your Internet. If the person is knowledgeable on the subject, it’s not too hard to break into your Wi-Fi. In fact, you might already trust them with your network password. From here, your documents can get breached, and your online activity could get recorded.
Make sure to think about every way someone around you could breach your privacy. The list is not short by any means, but it will block off the attacker from a few easy entry points.
3) A card skimmer captures your credit card info
Card skimming makes up for 80% of ATM fraud. While credit fraud is the main goal in most skimming schemes, some identity thieves use this method. More so, it’s becoming common for identity thieves to buy credit card info in bulk. From there, they can dig deeper to see which victims could get victimized further.
Believe it or not, a stolen and unused identity could sell for as little as $25 on the black market. If an identity thief is smart enough, with just $1,000 he or she could defraud up to 40 people. The amounts they can pull from each identity can run anywhere from $0 to $5,000 in most instances. But, a skimmed card can get replicated and cashed out for the full amount available on the card.
Card skimming is a problem we cannot bypass. It’s something that point-of-sale systems are working at blocking out. For now, all we can do is limit the payments we make with our cards. In most cases, it is not a big deal to pay for something with cash. While it will not help your credit, at least your identity will stay safe.
Using your card in any machine is a danger. If your card is not getting skimmed, you could still get targeted. The huge Target security breach years back is the perfect example of that. Ever since, many have tried to reduce the frequency in which they use their credit cards.
4) A thief’s job makes for an easy entry point
Believe it or not, your identity could get stolen many times a day. Think about all the times your ID gets shown to someone. Serious, it could be to claim your lottery ticket winnings, or to pick up your child from your church’s daycare. Or, you could be test driving a new vehicle or signing a new lease for the home you rent. Regardless of the situation, someone gets to look at your ID long enough to read it.
The perfect example of how an identity thief can use their job to their advantage is the case of Abraham Abdallah. He worked as a bus boy at a restaurant where many celebrities would frequent. He ended up getting his hands on Steven Spielberg’s credit card, and enough info to steal Oprah Winfrey’s identity. He later got caught trying to cash out $10 million on another stolen identity.
All it takes is a criminal with a good memory. Then, your credit card can get copied, and your identity might get stolen. You can only prevent this if no one gets to see your cards and IDs in the first place. This is difficult when so many companies make you show proof of identity. So, at least use a quality credit monitoring or identity protection service. Then, you can find out as soon as someone tries to steal your identity.
Worst case scenario, someone steals your card info through their job that also has you on file. This is because they can look up your file to get more information to go with what they have from your card. If this happens, then it is almost game over. The thief will have the ability to defraud you through your identity, and your life will become much more stressful.
Plus, do not forget the many companies that ask for your social security number. By giving up this key piece of information, a criminal can defraud your identity with ease.
5) A security breach compromises your identity
Security breaches are becoming commonplace. A few examples of this include the breaches at Adobe, Adult Friend Finder, and Target. Payment details are not always accessed, but that does not mean the information is useless. In cases where the breached database gets leaked, there is a staggering amount of potential damage.
It’s unfortunate, but this is not something you can prevent. It’s also hard for you to know when the damage will occur. But, the affected company will be responsible for your identity restoration costs. If you want to prevent this from happening in the first place, all you can do is limit where you use your cards.
Remember, security breaches can happen at both payment terminals and in online websites. It might be a site you have not used in years, but your information could still be on file. If a website gets breached, they will e-mail you about it. Watch out for any cases where your information might become findable. As soon as your information is accessible, you must amp up your security measures.
6) A thief creeps your online activity and accounts
Sometimes it is not necessary to hack someone to gather their personal information. That is the case for any identity thief who gathers information the investigative way. This type of attacker will get your personal details with sneaky tactics.
For example, if the public can see your social media activity, then an attacker can search for information there. It would surprise you how many different ways one could enter into your personal accounts. Say your first pet passes away, you upload a picture about it, and all a sudden a hacker can answer the security question: “What was your first pet’s name?”
That’s just one example. Social media also makes it easy to find details on where someone lives, where their family lives, and who their relatives are. All these tidbits of information got used for security purposes in the past. To this day, both Facebook and Outlook have inadequate security minimums. In fact, many Facebook users are vulnerable to this attack.
Keep yourself safe by limiting what the world can see about you. Social media works well when you are socializing within your current circle of people. But, it gets dangerous when the entire world’s population has easy access to information about you. With the right details, and maybe some other tactics, it’s easy to have your security breached.
Keep Your Identity Safe!
Identity protection services make guarding your identity less of a chore. These services will alert you whenever anyone tries to steal your identity. They will also contact you whenever any suspicious activity posts on your credit report.
Aside from that, you cannot ever guarantee your identity is 100% safe. There are just measures you can take to improve your protection. If you always worry, you will end up going crazy. The truth is that no one can stop identity theft. If you do not buy into that fact, just think about the roughly 15 million Americans who get their identity defrauded each year.