It happens to over 9 million Americans every year, and most of them aren’t aware of it until months or even years afterward. The crime is personal identity theft, and it is the fastest-growing felony in the country. Surprisingly, a bit of common sense can help one protect against identity theft, and the following will offer enlightenment about how to apply it.
Delta, PA -- (SBWIRE) -- 12/31/2012 -- The best way to start protecting against identity theft is by understanding how it happens in the first place. There are several methods ID thieves employ to get one’s personal information, from the old-fashioned dumpster diving to the newfangled phishing. Dumpster diving is quite literally what it says:
Thieves rifle through the large dumpsters usually found behind apartment complexes, looking for documents containing one’s date of birth, Social Security number (SSN), or credit card number. They then use this bit of data to open up charge accounts or take out loans they have no intention of ever paying on, ruining the victim’s credit rating. Another popular method ID thieves use is “shoulder surfing”. This happens when the person standing behind a customer who is using his charge card to make a purchase peeks over the customer’s shoulder to steal the numbers on the card. A more modern way to steal one’s information is to go “phishing” via a computer. This happens when a person receives an e-mail supposedly from a company he has done business with in the past asking for an update in the customer’s information. All of these methods of ID theft can be avoided with the aforementioned bit of common sense.
To protect against identity theft while out shopping, lean over the counter while using a credit card so no one can see the number over one’s shoulder. Be sure the cashier asks for proof of ID so the face of the person using the card matches the face on the person’s ID. Also, insist that the clerk compare signatures on the back of the card and on the signature pad at the checkout counter. When carrying a charge card in a purse, be sure to wear the purse across the body, as this makes it difficult for an ID thief to grab and run with it. If the card is in a man’s wallet, place the wallet in a front pocket or inside jacket pocket rather than in the rear pocket most men prefer. Never, ever carry one’s SSN on one’s person, nor should a child’s SSN be anywhere in one’s possession while out. Keep in mind that even children’s IDs can be stolen and protect against it.
Legal-yogi.com, an online repository of all manner of law is located in Pittsfield, Massachusetts,, has more advice on this topic and is happy to share it.