How Your Identity May Be Stolen

< Back to main article list

Despite your best efforts to manage the flow of your personal information or to keep it to yourself, skilled identity thieves may use a variety of methods to gain access to your data. They get information by:

  • Stealing records or information while they're on the job, bribing an employee who has access to information, hacking the computers that contain sensitive information or conning information out of employees;
  • Stealing your mail, including bank and credit card statements, credit card offers, new cheques, and tax information;
  • Rummaging through your trash, the trash of businesses, or public trash dumps (a practice known as "dumpster diving”);
  • Obtaining your credit reports by abusing an employer's authorized access to them or by posing as a landlord, employer, or someone else who may have a legal right to access your report;
  • Stealing your credit or debit card numbers by capturing the information on a data storage device in a practice known as "skimming."  They may swipe your card for an actual purchase, or attach the device to an ATM machine where you enter or swipe your card;
  • Stealing your wallet or purse;
  • Completing a "change of address form" to divert your mail to another location;
  • Stealing personal information they find in your home (typical perpetrators include domestic help or trades persons);
  • Stealing personal information from you through email or phone by posing as legitimate companies and claiming that there is a problem with your account. This practice is known as "phishing" online or “pre-texting” by phone.