How Can Your Identity Be Stolen?
* Bin raiding – Fraudsters pay people to go through the rubbish you throw out, looking for bank and credit card statements, pre-approved credit offers, and tax information. Everyday information that you may not think is important such as old gas, electricity and telephone bills, insurance documents, bank statements and even personal letters and envelopes they were sent in, carry valuable personal information that can be gathered together to steal an identity. A 2007 survey commissioned by Fellowes showed that an alarming 75% of Australians throw out enough personal information such as credit card statements in their rubbish and recycling to put them at risk of identity fraud.
* Card skimming – This usually occurs when a shop assistant or waiter, for example, gets your information by 'skimming' or copying your credit card information when you make a purchase. They often then sell the information to professional criminal gangs. Like phishing, skimming can be used on its own to collect enough information on your credit card to use your card fraudulently without stealing your entire identity
* Corporate Identity Theft – It is not just the individual at risk, but also companies. By accessing publicly available company records fraudsters will change names of company principals and registered addresses. They will then trade off the back of the real company's good name and obtain goods and services on credit from suppliers. This is not the only area of risk. Company bank details may be in the public arena in order to encourage customers to pay for goods directly into the company's bank account. Fraudsters will obtain signatures from the public records and attempt to attack these company bank accounts by purporting to be the signatory on the account
* Impersonation of the Deceased – Ruthless criminals have been known to use the identities of deceased people to carry out fraudulent activity. Fraudsters will note the age, date of birth and address of deceased people from announcements relating to the death or the funeral.
* Internet Sites – Anybody that uses the internet will regularly be asked to share personal information to gain access to websites and buy goods. Fraudsters can combine the personal information you provide to unsecured internet sites such as your mother's maiden name with other bits of valuable information they glean about you to obtain credit in your name
* Mail Forwarding – By completing change-of-address forms to redirect your mail, fraudsters can receive a wealth of information about you delivered direct to their doorstep
* Phishing – This term describes identity theft via email. Fraudsters will send an email claiming to be from a bank, Credit Card Company or other organisation, with which you might have a relationship, asking for urgent information. Typically the email will ask you to click on a link to enter your account details on the company's website to protect against fraud or to avoid your account being deactivated. But if you click on the link in the email you will be taken to a website which looks genuine but has in fact been created by fraudsters to trick you into revealing your private information. The fraudsters then use the information provided to set about obtaining money from your accounts
* Theft Of Wallet Or Purse – The average purse or wallet contains bank cards, credit cards and valuable identity documents including driving licenses and membership cards. Victims realise very quickly that their wallet has been stolen but often do not realise the value of the information contained within it until it is too late.
* Unsolicited Contact - Phone calls claiming to be from banks asking you to update your personal information should be regarded with caution. Calling the switchboard of the company in question and asking to be put through to the person who called you will help ensure you are not playing into the hands of fraudsters. Similarly, fraudsters posing as market researchers may ask for personal information over the phone. Credible organisations will not mind you double checking their authenticity before providing such information