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  • Home > learn/share > Security & Fraud > Identity Theft
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    Identity Theft Tactics

    Identity theft occurs when your personal information is stolen and used without your knowledge to commit crimes such as fraud, theft, or forgery. Your identity can be stolen through several methods:

    Common Tactics

    Email fraud or Phishing

    Fraudsters send emails that appear to be from a legitimate organization in an attempt to fool you into submitting personal, financial, or password data. The emails typically link to a website that replicates that of the legitimate organization. These sites may appear to have the correct web address or URL but when you click the link, you are redirected to a fraudulent site.

    Spyware

    Software that collects personal information by capturing your key strokes or changing the configuration of your computer. This is generally done without your consent when you install other software.

    Scareware or rogue security software

    Fake computer security software appears on your computer and warns you about threats that need to be taken care of right away. The software bombards you with pop-up notices to upgrade your virus protection in order to fix the problem, and prevents you from doing anything else on your computer. Once you input your credit card information you are a target for identity theft.

    Dumpster diving

    Fraudsters rummage through your trash looking for bills or other documents with your personal information on them.

    Skimming

    Your credit or debit card number is stolen using a skimming device when your card is used at an ATM or checkout.

    Stealing

    Fraudsters steal wallets, purses and mail.

    Pretexting

    Fraudsters use false pretences to obtain your personal information from financial institutions, telephone companies, and other sources.

    Pharming

    When a fraudster secretly plants a program in your computer to hijack your browser and take you to phishing sites, even when you type in the web address yourself.

    Symptoms and Prevention

    Symptoms of Identity Theft

    Wondering how to know if you're a victim of fraud? Here are four symptoms of identity theft:

    • A creditor informs you that an application has been received that you did not make.
    • You receive credit card statements or other bills in your name that you did not apply for.
    • You stop receiving your credit card statements or you notice that you are no longer receiving all of your mail.
    • A collection agency informs you that they are collecting on a defaulted account that was opened with your identity.

    Preventing Identity Theft

    You can help prevent identity theft! Use the following tactics to help keep your personal information safe and secure:

    • Keep your social insurance number in a secure place and limit its use.
    • Shred or tear receipts, copies of credit applications, insurance forms, credit offers, and any other personal information.
    • Watch your mail to ensure that your bills arrive on time and in sealed envelopes.
    • Delete spam or other emails that ask for your banking information, credit card details and passwords. Do not click on any links or reply.
    • Check your credit rating once per year to make sure that no one has taken out a loan using your information. If your credit rating is low but there is no reason that it should be, there may be loans in your name you don't know about.
    • Report lost or stolen cards immediately.

    Check out the following resources for identity theft prevention and support: