Identity theft has been around for decades. However, with the advent of sophisticated technology the scams aimed at stealing identity have become more prevalent and the damage to an individual's life even more devastating. The FBI has long been engaged in finding those who steal the identity of others. The bureau has some advice for consumers who seek to protect themselves from this type of crime.
The first thing to know is that your name, home address and birth date are the first steps to stealing personal information. Once this information is obtained, it is generally easier to access a social security number. The social security number is the key to unlocking an individual's credit.
Remember that thieves can only steal your identity if they gain access to your information. For those who utilize the internet, phishing schemes in the form of bogus emails that seek to steal pertinent information are utilized to gain access to personal data. Internet users should be vigilant about sending vital information over the internet, particularly while on social media. Even when an email seems to originate from a trusted source, think twice before sending personal information over the web.
In addition to remaining vigilant on the web, there are other things that can protect our identity. Never carry your social security card in your wallet. If a wallet is stolen be sure to change all important documents, like a driver's license, immediately. Remember to shred documents before throwing them away. When on the Internet be sure to use a good firewall, anti-virus software or a program that removes spyware from a computer.
Source: The Federal Bureau of Investigation, "Protecting Your Identity," Jeff Lanza, Aug. 21, 2006