Identity theft has reached epidemic proportions, from the bold theft of smart phones and personal items to cyber espionage, your privacy is at risk on a daily basis. Identity theft is best described as identity fraud and impersonation. In many cases the victim is not aware that their identity has been stolen or how it was stolen. This pandemic has a multitude of personalities including but not limited to: ABM and debit card skimming, credit card fraud, on-line transactions, phishing sites, mail and e-mail thefts, computer hacking, social network terrorism, internet impersonation, and many other forms. Often e-mails or websites that appear legitimate are designed only to obtain your personal information which is then re-sold to criminal organizations.
These types of identity theft fall under several categories:
- Criminal identity theft (posing as another person when apprehended)
- Financial identity theft (using another person’s identity to obtain credit, goods, and services)
- Identity cloning (using another person’s information to assume his/her identity in daily life)
- Medical identity theft (using another person’s identity to obtain medical care or drugs)
- Child identity theft
There are also a multitude of ways to steal your personal information:
- Dumpster and garbage diving
- Personal data from discarded smart phones, tablets, computers, USB drives
- Internet surveys
- Skimming from ABM’S or card readers
- RFID enabled products (contactless credit cards)
- Shoulder surfing at WI-FI locations
- Spyware and malware
- Computer hacking
- Bogus job offers
- Fraudulent on-line loan applications
- Insider access of privileged IT users
- E-mail impersonations of trusted organizations; government agencies, banks, corporate websites, data collection forms.
- Attacks on weak passwords and re-direction of data
- Browsing of social networks for personal information
- Using false pretences to trick individuals (pretexting)
- Stealing cheques
- Guessing Social Security numbers and financial information based on information obtained on social networks.
- Downloading pictures found on social network sites
- Befriending strangers on social network sites and taking advantage of their trust until financial information is given or funds wired to their account
Identity theft can be used to facilitate or fund other crimes including illegal immigration, terrorism, phishing and espionage. It can also be used to steal your funds from your bank account and process illegal transactions on your credit card. It can take years for your credit rating to recover.
BCSI has successfully investigated different types of impersonation, breach of privacy, and identity thefts. There are apps on the market to steal someone’s identity through spyware and other on-line tools.