Commonly Overlooked Sources of Identity Theft
You’ve heard it all before – conduct online business through secure Wi-Fi only, watch your incoming mail for erroneous credit invitations, check your statements and your credit reports, and set up strong passwords and alerts, yada yada! But here are a few additional times you’ll want to be vigilant, especially this holiday season!
- Car Loans. According to the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, auto loan identity theft is twice as high as any other form. Most dealerships have you complete paperwork with identifying personal data (name, address, date of birth, phone number) up to and including a loan application, which likely includes your Social Security Number. How is this data handled? Unless you actually purchase the vehicle, and your paperwork becomes part of a permanent file, refuse to complete it. Most dealerships simply toss your paperwork after 30 days if you don’t make a purchase. Their trash receptacle then becomes a pre-qualified source for identity thieves.
- The Pharmacy. Pharmacy records contain your personal identifying information (name, address, date of birth, phone number, insurance plan information, employer and often, your Social Security number). Thieves look anywhere for taking basic information to build a new identity, or to re-fill prescriptions that they can then sell. Make sure your pharmacy asks for your ID, and request confirmation that they shred personal data.
- Mortgage ID Theft. The house you’re living in may not be yours. An identity thief will obtain your personal information and use it to obtain a home loan, or an equity loan, without your knowledge. An equity loan gives the criminal quick cash. Using the value of a home is one of the easiest ways to secure cash. There have been cases where the thieves have actually sold the victim’s home while they were still living in it, and were unaware they’d been victimized. Second homes and vacation homes are especially vulnerable to this type of identity theft, as it allows the thieves a longer period of time to get cash out of the property, or sell it before the real owner is aware there is a problem. All homeowners should routinely check with their county record’s office to ensure that their information is correct. If you receive any paperwork regarding your mortgage, a transfer of your mortgage or lender, don’t toss it out, pay attention because it may be the only warning you get until a new owner is knocking at your door.
- Cyber Greeting Cards. As we head into the holiday season, a new method of hacking into your computer is lurking in those adorable greeting cards sitting in your e-mail. It blinks at you saying you’ve been sent a greeting from a “friend.”
You open it and are directed to a site where malware will invade your computer, or you will be asked to “install” software to “play” the card. When this happens, malware, that could potentially destroy your computer or allow an identity thief access to your personal data, is unleashed. Unless the name of a real person that you know is attached to the greeting card, do not open it.
The Bottom Line
There is no way to protect your identity 100% of the time. Often, what happens to your personal information is completely out of your control. The only option you have is to be constantly diligent in tracking your information, protecting your information and asking where that information is going. You have the right to ask, you have the right to know and you have the right to withdraw that information if you feel uncomfortable.
Original story – 5 Overlooked Places Where Your Identity Can Be Stolen