Intersections Inc., a leading provider of consumer and corporate identity theft protection services and creator of Identity Guard, recently sponsored a report that reveals why it is so easy for criminals to steal your identity. The primary purpose of the report is to create consumer awareness of the rising risks associated with identity theft.
Intersections pointed out that recent statistics that were released by the Department of Justice at the close of 2010 revealed that approximately 11.7 million people were victims of identity theft between 2008 and 2010. In a recent report on identity theft, Intersections listed the top methods that criminals use to steal your identity. According to the Identity Guard report criminals use the following methods:
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This is malicious software that tricks unsuspecting users into downloading software that is capable of collecting your personal information from your PC and sending it back to a remote server where it is harvested by criminals for illegal use. The software usually disguises itself as a fake antivirus or anti-malware program and tricks you into believing your PC has a virus and in order to remove it you must purchase the bogus software. While your attention is diverted, the program downloads spyware into your PC to spy on all of your computing activity.
These are messages that you receive in your email that appear to be from your financial institution or other source that requires you to enter personal information. It usually states something like to continue using your account you must click on the included link and log in to verify your personal information. The website where you log in is made to look very much like your financial institution site when in reality the information you enter goes to the criminal’s site.
Phone scams where criminals pose as an authorized person from your financial institution and request your personal and financial information to continue using your account. If you use caller ID there is software that the criminal can use to disguise their telephone number to look like it is coming from your financial institution.
Everyday locations such as ATM machines and other places where you swipe your card may have a card reader or hidden camera installed by the criminal to read your credit card information or PIN number. Recently criminals have gone as far as hacking into the computer system in ATM machines to gather financial information for illegal use.
Data breaches can occur from companies you trust where your financial or personal information is accidentally compromised due to a criminal that hacked into the system and breached data security.
These are a few of the ways that identity theft can occur. Identity Guard recommends that you should be careful when providing your personal information, take precautions when opening your email and surfing the Internet, and take a proactive approach to installing multiple forms of protection on your PC. Additionally, identity theft can still occur so it is a good idea to use an identity theft protection service to notify you if there has been a potential breach and to help you pick up the pieces if you have become a victim of identity theft.