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Identity Theft

Identity Theft

Amit got Sanjay’s (victim) ID information like xerox of latter’s Ration card or driving licence or phone bill or anything which has victim info. He changes the photo on the ration card and make a copy of it again. Later, Amit applies for a driving license on victim’s name with his own photo on it. Now Amit can open a Bank Account with that driving license and can apply for a credit card on his victim's name and address. Unfortunately Amit is issued Credit Card, thanks to lax verification procedures. Now Amit uses the credit card to buy expensive things like jewellery, mobile phones, laptop, watches etc. After a while, Sanjay will get the bill from the bank for all the purchases made by Amit….!

What is Identity Theft?

Identity theft is a fraud that involves stealing money or getting other benefits by pretending to be someone else. The person whose identity is used can suffer various consequences when they are held responsible for the perpetrator's actions. Identity theft is a crime.

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How criminals steal your identity?

In most cases, a criminal needs to obtain personally identifiable information or documents about an individual in order to impersonate them. They may do this by:

  • Stealing payment or identification cards, either by pickpocketing or surreptitiously by skimming through a compromised card reader

  • Remotely reading information from an RFID chip on a smart card, RFID-enabled credit card, or passport

  • Browsing social network (MySpace, Facebook, Orkut etc) sites, online for personal details that have been posted by users

  • Stealing mail or rummaging through rubbish (dumpster diving)
  • Retrieving information from redundant equipment which has been disposed of carelessly, e.g. at public dump sites, given away without proper sanitizing etc.
  • Researching about the victim in government registers, internet search engines, or public records search services.
  • Eavesdropping on public transactions to obtain personal data (shoulder surfing)
  • Stealing personal information in computer databases (Trojan horses, hacking)
  • Advertising bogus job offers (either full-time or work from home based) to which the victims will reply with their full name, address, curriculum vitae, telephone numbers, and banking details
  • Infiltration of organizations that store large amounts of personal information
  • Impersonating a trusted organization in an electronic communication (phishing)
  • Obtaining castings of fingers for falsifying fingerprint identification.

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What a criminal can do with stolen identity?
  • Apply for a credit card in your name;
  • Open a bank or building society account in your name;
  • Apply for other financial services in your name;
  • Run up debts (e.g. use your credit/debit card details to make purchase) or obtain a loan in your name;
  • Apply for any benefits in your name (e.g. housing benefit, new tax credits, pensions, health benefits etc)
  • Apply for a driving licence in your name;
  • Register a vehicle in your name and use it for crime;
  • Apply for a passport in your name; or
  • Apply for a mobile phone connection in your name.

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How can you protect yourself from ID theft?

The strongest protection against identity theft is not to identify at all - thereby ensuring that information cannot be reused to impersonate an individual elsewhere. Following are some tips;

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Safety tips to avoid Identity Theft
  • Never disclose personal information to anyone you do not trust.
  • Do not provide your information until and unless you are sure about the caller. If in case of doubt you call them using the bank phone number.
  • Remember that banks always ask for specific characters like last 4 digits of your card
  • Ensure that your personal documents are always secure. Your personal documents include your bank account details, credit cards, driving license, card receipts, financial statements and even utility bills.
  • Periodically peruse your bank statements to check for any transactions that have occurred without your knowledge.
  • Dispose of financial statements, card receipts and other personal documents with utmost care. Tear or cut into pieces any such documents before trashing them.
  • Keep the authorities informed if you have lost any personal item. For example, report a stolen credit card.
  • Raise an alarm if you receive a telephone call or letter saying you have been approved or denied credit for accounts you know nothing about, or you receive a credit card statement for an account that you never opened.
  • While paying by credit card, never let it out of your sight.
  • Raise an alarm if the card is being swiped more than required, or if it is being scanned.
  • In case of a change in address, ensure to notify the correct address to all recipients who send you statements to your address.
  • Always sign up for SMS/Email alerts while taking a Credit Card and on Online Banking transactions.
  • Always Erase CVV code from the backside of your Credit Card.
  • Be Careful while using your personal details like your ID, your Credit Card number etc in Online Shopping, the computer you may be using has SPYWARE or Online shopping site you using may be not secure.
  • Never save any personal information in your computer or laptop or under your desk or in C.D’s or in Flash Drives.
  • Don't carry personal information such as pin numbers with you. Just remember them or store them in a secured way.
  • Make sure your letterbox is secured.

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