First, they steal your identity by...
- Going through your mail or trash (known as Dumpster Diving), looking for bank and credit card statements, pre-approved credit offers, tax information, utility bills, charge receipts, cancelled checks and other paperwork that may contain any of your personal and/or financial information.
- Stealing personal information from your wallet or purse such as identification, credit, or bankcards.
- Completing change-of-address forms to redirect your mail. This can be done by a visit to the Post Office or by changing your address on any financial institutions that you may receive mail from, to include pre-approved credit applications.
- Obtaining your credit report by posing as someone who has a lawful right to the information.
- Acquiring personal information you share on unsecured internet sites or from an unprotected computer (no anti-virus or firewall protection).
- Buying personal information about you from an inside source -- for example, a store employee that obtains your information from a credit application or by "skimming" your credit card information when you make a purchase or at an ATM.
- Obtaining your personnel records at work.
The thieves will then use your personal information by…
- Whenever possible, use your existing credit card or bank accounts.
- Opening new credit card accounts using your name, date of birth, and Social Security number. When identity thieves use the credit cards and allow them to go delinquent, the delinquency is reported on your credit report.
- Obtaining utility services in your name at places such as a vacant house which is often used as a drug establishment.
- Establishing phone or cellular service in your name.
- Opening a bank account in your name and writing bad checks on the account.
- Counterfeiting checks or debit cards, and draining your bank account.
- Buying cars by taking out auto loans in your name.
- Calling your credit card issuer and impersonating you, changing the address on the account. Bills are sent to the new address, so you are unaware of a problem until you check your credit report.
- Filing for bankruptcy, using your name, to avoid paying debts they've incurred under your name.