This is an upfront article that will specifically focus its discussion on the several methods utilized by identity theft criminals to obtain and exploit the personal information of their victims, and the many credentials that they utilize to validate themselves, so that they can perform various identity theft crimes. Here are some examples:
1. Searching garbage bins for any personal information that can be used to steal the identity of another person, also known as dumpster diving.
2. Retrieving personal data from different equipments and storage media like personal computers, servers, PDAs, mobile phones, memory sticks, hard drives and memory cards that have been discarded haphazardly at a public dump sites, given away or sold to entities without being appropriately cleaned from crucial data and information.
3. Stealing identities of individual citizens from public records like electoral rolls.
4. Obtaining access to credit cards and other identification cards like passports and social security cards through burglary, pick-pocketing, and snatching wallets or purses.
5. Creating clone cards of bank and credit cards using hand-held card readers that skim information.
6. Obtaining personal information by using “contactless” credit card readers that acquire information wirelessly from RFID-enabled passports.
7. Shoulder surfing or observing other users when they key in their PIN numbers in ATM machines.
8. Thieving personal information from computers using malwares and spywares like Trojans, keyloggers and other programs.
9. Obtaining data in large quantities through hacking computer systems and online databases that contain personal information of company clients and customers.
10. Taking advantage of breaches that often concludes into the publication or restricted disclosure of personal information like names, addresses, social security numbers or credit card numbers.
11. Advertising fake job offers to amass personal information through resumes and applications that disclose the applicant’s name, home address, telephone numbers and even social security numbers and banking details.
12. Accessing personal data using employer systems through exploitation of insider access and manipulating IT privileges.
13. Phishing or posing as representatives of reputable and legitimate organizations in emails, text messages and phone calls to lure victims into providing their personal information or login credentials by directing them to a bogus website.
14. Falsifying fingerprint identification by using castings of fingers or gummy bears for low quality fingerprint scanners.
15. Joining social networking site and acquiring personal information posted by users on their profiles and using these information to make themselves appear more credible in their next social engineering activities.
These are just some of the techniques that identity theft criminals use to gain access to another individual’s identity. Some of the techniques here are conventional ones while others require the use of high-end sophisticated technology in order to perpetrate identity theft activities. Protecting ourselves from this crime requires that we be aware on how our personal data can be obtained without our consent so that each of us can take preventive measures that can deter and detect identity theft crimes when it comes crawling up our doors.