Skimming is one of the most recent methods being utilized by criminals to steal your identity. This method of identity theft involves the use of specialized equipment that is installed by thieves into the credit card readers at gas pumps, ATMs, etcâ€¦These specialized "skimmers" are usually hidden away from sight, making detection nearly impossible for the casual consumer. The skimmers make 2 copies of your credit card that allow a thief to view the transaction and the card itself. Once your credit card has been copied, criminals use the information in different ways to suck money from your account. The biggest problem with trying to avoid skimmers is the fact that they are very hard to notice, and sometimes it is only a couple cents stolen at a time.
Another very popular way for criminals to steal identities is through medical records and accounts. When a thief steals your information to use for their own medical care, your medical record is changed and this can have very serious consequences. An identity thief may impersonate you to receive a certain medical procedure, and later down the line when your own health is in jeopardy, the false medical records may prevent doctors from using necessary procedures to save your life. This is a very scary form of identity theft, and paying close attention to your bills and medical records can help prevent a very bad situation from occurring.
There is another method of identity theft that is being used on social networking sites, which have become extremely popular in the last few years. Thieves use false identities or "pretexts" that make you feel comfortable about letting them into your social networking world. Once they have invaded your space, they look for certain personal information such as your age, hometown, employer, and personal favorites. Thieves could also contact you under numerous false pretenses(as an entity you trust), asking for your birthday or even your social security number. Being aware of these methods is the first step toward identity theft protection.
One of the most unfortunate forms of identity theft is committed by the people you trust the most. About 50% of all identity theft crime occurs through friends and family. Especially in the hard economic times we are dealing with at the moment, the temptation can be too great for even friends or family to try and benefit by stealing our financial information. This can be avoided by keeping close tabs or hiding your personal identifiers or financial statements at the workplace, school, home, etcâ€¦
Dumpster diving is another popular form of identity theft that can take place at your own home. Pre-Approved credit card offers, bank statements, and many other forms of mail hold personal identifiers and clues that could open up the possibility of identity theft among criminals. Getting a PO Box and shredding old mail will greatly decrease any chances of thieves gaining valuable information fro your trash and/or mailbox.