There are some unscrupulous people out there, and as much as we would like to believe that we are safe from identity theft, we put ourselves at risk every time we share personal information, especially financial information. There are many identity theft scams, and it is hard to protect yourself, especially when you don’t know what the scam is. Here are some of the top identity theft scams to look out for.
Identity theft scams don’t always happen online. “Phishing” scams, where someone calls you asking for passwords and other personal information, often occur over the phone. Usually, the thief will make it sound like an urgent matter. For example, they might say that someone is about to withdraw a large sum of money from your account and they need your password to verify that the account is yours. Ironically, it is only after you give up the password that that account is in jeopardy. If you get a call like this, take down the name of the agency that the person is allegedly calling from and tell them you will call them back. When you call your bank or lender, they will most likely tell you that they had no knowledge of the call.
A similar process can happen online, where you get an email alerting you that someone is trying to access your account. Computer identity theft is one to keep an eye on. This one is more insidious, because a link in the email will often lead to a dummy page that looks just like eBay, Amazon, or whatever page you normally visit. When you enter your name and password as you normally would, the identity thief has you. Again, if you are worried about a problem with a site, close out of the email and type the URL of the site (NOT copied from the email) directly into the web browser and proceed from there.
Identity thieves will do anything they can think of to get your personal financial data. They may tell you that you’ve won the lottery, they may offer you a free service, they may even go through your garbage. Make sure that you always protect yourself by only providing personal information to trusted sources through trusted methods, like a secure, encrypted Internet server. Always know where your credit cards and financial documents are at all times.
Despite avoiding scams, Identity thieves may still get a hold of your information. A good defense against this is to order credit monitoring. Through this service, you will be emailed immediately if there has been any significant change to your credit report or credit score. This way, if someone is trying to use your information to make a financial transaction, you’ll be aware of it instantly. You can then contact the necessary agencies and put a stop to it, and possibly catch the thief in the process.