Within 30 minutes of searching the Internet, a fraudster can find your personal information and begin the process of stealing or compromising your identity.
Three Years to Three Months – How Soon Can You Tell If Your Identity Was Stolen?
Based on Experian.com, it typically takes three months for the majority of people to discover they have been victims of identity theft. However, according to the same report, 16% of people didn’t find out their identities had been stolen for three years.
I Shared My Phone Number and I Shouldn’t Have
Don’t share your personal phone number. Do not put your phone number on your personal checks. When asked for your phone number at a retail store, say no. You don’t want them calling you. When filling out a form online, don’t include your phone number.
Common Names Make You More Susceptible to Identity Theft
People with common names have often stated: “no one can find me on the web because my name is too common”. This is not true. Perhaps the fraudster works with you and knows the town where you live. With a few clicks, they have your address, birthdate, relatives, etc. The fraudster does not have to be unknown. Perhaps it is a disgruntled coworker or someone who just does not like you. You have made it easy with your complacency to have them wreak havoc on your life.
A 2017 Wall Street Journal article states that thieves prefer common names because there are so many out there. Credit companies have a hard time keeping the credit history of “Jane Smith” and another “Jane Smith”. Fraudsters take advantage of this making it easier to commit fraud. In the same name cases, the identity thief can perpetuate the crime for a longer period without getting caught. Often the fraudster will use a common name and commit crimes because it is difficult for law enforcement to sort out the truth.
Beware of the Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing
Be careful what you mention to people. It can be a relative, friend, employee, coworker, neighbor, ex-spouse, etc. Employees know when other employees are traveling, this is a perfect time to do online research and determine where the person lives. Now the fraudster employees know when you will be traveling and where you live. Based on a Forbes.com magazine article, we think of identity thieves as people who dig in dumpsters and trash cans to find account numbers. Rarely do we consider personal acquaintances, family members or friends. These people steal Social Security numbers, credit card account numbers, and debit cards. Identity theft by family members and friends is not always a malicious crime intended to steal cash. People with low credit scores rarely steal cash; they just steal your credit score.
Your Vehicle Provides a Wealth of Information
The fraudster works with you and notices the car you are driving. A simple click on a vehicle website will provide information regarding where you live, the VIN, and your phone number. Had you removed your information from the web, this would not be an issue. Or even if the fraudster does not know you, they can find your address based on your car information. Sitting at their home computer, they click on Isuzu, Model, Ascender, the state, the year of the vehicle. The fraudster can now use this information to steal your mail, steal your identity, or even steal your house!
Synthetic ID Theft
Now that the fraudster has all of your personal information, per Experian.com, synthetic identity theft occurs when criminals create a fictitious identity using various pieces of real and fabricated information—such as a Social Security number, date of birth, address, phone number, and email. The victim will then have to deal with the impact of any accounts or debts attached to them fraudulently.
For further information on how to remove your personal information from the Internet, contact Dr. Kim Miller.