Identity theft has become a growing problem, especially with the advent of the internet. People are not just having their names stolen; quite often they are also losing their financial wealth as a consequence. Personal information like passwords, pins and account numbers are being stolen and used by criminals. It is important to know how these thieves can access your information and what you can do to protect yourself.
Though stealing someone’s identity is a more common occurrence now, it can be traced back to earlier centuries. Unlike now where two people can exist simultaneously with the same information, in the past, often identity thieves would use the information of deceased people. It was not unusual, especially during war situations, for a soldier to assume the identity of a dead comrade and then return to the dead soldier’s life, impersonating him.
The motives for this could vary, from wanting a better situation to escaping the negative consequences of their own identity. War promoted a close rapport between soldiers and they would share deeply personal information. With war wounds and dog tags as identifiers, it was easy to impersonate another person.
Identity theft has become enough of a crime these days that there are specialized companies focused on preventing the leaking of personal information. Even the average person will ensure that they have shredded important personal documents before they throw them out. Unfortunately, criminals will go to any length in order to obtain personal information. The common method has been, and still is, going through someone’s garbage looking for old bank statements, phone bills, or even personal effects that would help them assume a new identity.
With the explosion of technology and online banking the days of rooting through trash may be coming to an end. There are many Trojan or other viruses that will tap into secure sites or even personal computers, tracking internet usage and personal data.
Passwords and financial information can be obtained with minimal effort. It is always a good idea to make sure that these sites are protected with strong encryptions and that you regularly scan and protect your own personal computer with an anti-virus program.
If you discover that you have been the victim of identity fraud, immediately report it to your bank and any other financial institution that may be necessary. You should also report it to the police and you do have the option of pressing criminal charges if the culprit is caught.