Since there are so many types of identity theft, we try to always keep you updated about new methods that thieves are using to steal identities. More often than not, these criminals turn to high-tech, digital tactics like phishing, spoofing, and spyware. They hack into the computer systems of companies and steal all the personal information they can find. The lengths they will go to are a bit unnerving, to say the least.
With all this focus on digital safety, however, it’s important to remember that identity thieves began offline — and they’re still opting for these low-tech methods because they work. Keeping your identity safe takes more than having strong passwords and not clicking on suspicious links; make sure you’re aware of the “old school” ways that thieves are still using to steal identities every single day.
How Do The “Old School” Types of Identity Theft Still Happen?
Although it may feel like identity thieves are not “real” people when they’re committing crimes online, they are real — and they’re out walking among us all the time. Some identity thieves can get pretty creative, but here are a few common, basic ways that identities are stolen when we’re not paying attention.
- Mail theft – Chances are, you’re not home every day monitoring your mailbox 24/7. That’s just not realistic. During those times, there’s nothing to stop thieves from opening your mailbox, taking sensitive letters or bills out, and walking away with them. Your mailbox gives anyone access to mail that contains your name, address, phone number, birthday, account numbers, and even your Social Security number. And don’t forget — mail can also be taken from inside your house as well. If you leave mail around your home, it could be snatched by a vendor working for you (like a housekeeper or plumber), or even people that you trust.
- Mail fishing – This old school scam has made a resurgence in recent years. Mail fishing happens when criminals pillage outgoing mail from U.S. Postal Service blue drop boxes before it can be picked up. Gift cards, replacement debit or credit cards, checks, birthday cards – essentially any documents that can either be cashed in, forged, or used to steal personally identifiable information (PII) is up for grabs.
- Trash picking – You know that mail we told you not to leave around your house? Don’t just toss it into the trash or recycling bin right away either. Before you dispose of anything that contains your personal information, run it through your shredder. If a thief misses your mail delivery, they know there’s a good chance it’ll end up on your curb on trash day, so don’t give them the opportunity to go trash picking and steal your identity.
- Lost or stolen wallets – Whether a thief slips your wallet out of your back pocket, or you accidentally leave it in the back of a cab, you’re at risk of identity theft once that wallet leaves your possession. What can you do in a situation like that? Call each of the credit card companies and report them stolen right away. If it becomes evident the your wallet isn’t coming back, you’ll need to get a new driver’s license and ask any financial institutions to issue new cards. The cardinal rule of avoiding identity theft, though? Never, never carry your Social Security card in your wallet.
- Looking over your shoulder – Identity thieves look just like everyone else, so it’s hard to tell when one is standing right behind you. Many criminals steal credit card numbers, PINs, and other identifying information just by looking over your shoulder while you type at an ATM, pay at a store, or check your bank balance on your phone. Make sure you are aware of your surroundings and shield any personal information with your hand.
When a thief steals your identity, regardless of the type of identity theft, you may not find out for a long time. By then, a lot of damage can be done. IdentityForce can monitor your identity around the clock so that as soon as something doesn’t look right, you can take control immediately.