Identity Theft – Credit Cards

29 11 2011

Identity theft is the activity in which someone obtains your personal information and uses it in ways to impersonate you, usually for some economic gain. It includes getting your name, address, telephone number, credit card information etc. and using it to impersonate you.

Application Fraud: – This happens when criminals, use personal information and documents to open accounts in someone else’s name. They can get documents by going through dumpsters. We throw out a lot of documents like utility bills and bank statements without shredding them. Documents that contain our name and address on them. Using documents like these criminals can impersonate us.

Skimming: – This is the process in which criminals, read the information stored in the magnetic strip of credit cards and they can use this information for their own economic gain. Criminals usually install devices at ATM machines or self serve gas pumps. These devices called skimmers, read the information on the magnetic strip of your card. These devices are inconspicuously installed on the machine. Along with these devices, criminals could also install hidden cameras at ATMs to get the 4-digit pin the user is entering. Skimming could also occur at restaurants where a waiter takes you card when you pay the bill, he could pass the card through a skimmer and then give the card back without the person ever suspecting any fraud.

Another way to get your credit card information is through phishing attacks. Criminals send emails pretending to be from legitimate financial institutions. They ask for your personal information and card details for verification. Unsuspecting users give away this information thinking the mail has come from a legitimate source. Call centers are another place where credit card information might be stolen. You call your credit card helpline and they ask you for your card number and other personal information and we give it away. The person at the call center can collect this information and sell this to criminals.

Another very simple way in which criminals can get access to your personal information is at public places. Assume you are sitting at a coffee shop and shopping online. Someone can look over you shoulder and gain access to your personal information as you are entering it.

Few precautions against identity theft: –

  • Do not give out personal information over the phone or when you get emails asking for them.
  • Always be aware of the surroundings, make sure no people are around you when you enter your pin at the ATM or when you do online transactions. Make sure the ATM machines do not have any strange devices attached to them.
  • Always shred and dispose all receipts and bills and other documents with personal information on them.
  • Do not leave documents with personal information on your desk at office.

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  1. http://www.justice.gov/criminal/fraud/websites/idtheft.html
  2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Credit_card_fraud
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