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  • Writer's pictureBarbara Mathews

How Identity Thieves Steal an Identity

Updated: Feb 3, 2020

Posted by Barbara Mathews on Wednesday, 15 February 2012 

We are pleased to have a guest posting from Trish Hackett Nicola, CG, of Seattle, Washington. She posted this information on the Members Only list of the Association of Professional Genealogists and has given us permission to republish it. Trish writes:

This is what the FTC says about identity theft. It doesn’t mention the SSDI.

How do Thieves Steal an Identity?

Identity theft starts with the misuse of your personally identifying information such as your name and Social Security number, credit card numbers, or other financial account information. For identity thieves, this information is as good as gold.

Skilled identity thieves may use a variety of methods to get hold of your information, including:

Dumpster Diving. They rummage through trash looking for bills or other paper with your personal information on it.Skimming. They steal credit/debit card numbers by using a special storage device when processing your card.Phishing. They pretend to be financial institutions or companies and send spam or pop-up messages to get you to reveal your personal information.Changing Your Address. They divert your billing statements to another location by completing a change of address form.Old-Fashioned Stealing. They steal wallets and purses; mail, including bank and credit card statements; pre-approved credit offers; and new checks or tax information. They steal personnel records, or bribe employees who have access. Pretexting. They use false pretenses to obtain your personal information from financial institutions, telephone companies, and other sources. For more information about pretexting, click here.

And here is what the Department of Justice said in 2001:  [I don’t believe it is much different in 2012. They don’t mention SSDI.]

How Does Identity Theft Occur? 

Identity theft occurs in many ways, ranging from careless sharing of personal information, to intentional theft of purses, wallets, mail, or digital information. In public places, for example, thieves engage in “shoulder surfing” watching you from a nearby location as you punch in your telephone calling card number or credit card number or listen in on your conversation if you give your credit card number over the telephone. Inside your home, thieves may obtain information from your personal computer while you are on-line and they are anonymously sitting in the comfort of their own home. Outside your home, thieves steal your mail, garbage, or recycling. Outside medical facilities or businesses, thieves engage in “dumpster diving” going through garbage cans, large dumpsters, or recycling bins to obtain identity information which includes credit or debit card receipts, bank statements, medical records like prescription labels, or other records that bear your name, address, or telephone number.”

See “9 Ways to Prevent Identity Theft by Computer Hackers,” 16 Aug 2011    [It doesn’t mention SSDI.]

Maybe we should give them statistics about where Identity theft is coming from and use their own figures.

Trish Hackett Nicola; the OpenGov logo is in the public domain and was taken from the Social Security Administration’s own webpage.

Last modified on Sunday, 05 August 2012

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