Forms of Identity Theft

Know the Forms of Identity Theft: 

  • Physical/Social: 
    • Stealing mail directly from your mailbox, or by illegally forwarding your mail to another address (done by forging a Canada Post “Change of Address” request form or replying to stolen mail saying that your address has changed)
    • Stealing purses and wallets, or finding lost ones.
    • “Dumpster Diving”: sifting through garbage/recycling for discarded mail or personal information.
    • “Shoulder Surfing”: reading your PIN over your shoulder.
    • Eavesdropping.
    • “Skimming”: Running your credit card through an electronic “skimmer,” which copies the card’s data for later use. Skimmers are sold legally.[11]  
    • Camera phones: taking photos of your credit card number.
    • Impersonation of law enforcement officials, landlords, or representatives of businesses, asking for your credit card information, credit report, or personal information.
    • Breaking into cars, offices, or businesses with personal information files.
    • Stealing cell phones, laptops, or other personal electronic devices.
    • Searching through public records, newspapers, and phonebooks.
    • Bribing corrupt employees.
    • “Pretexting”: charming victims, or a third party who knows the victim well, into sharing personal information by securing their trust. 
       
  • Electronic: 
    • Email scams, called “phishing”: a fraudulent email created to emulate an email from a legitimate business that asks for passwords, credit card information, or personal information.
    • Telephone scams, called “vishing”: a fraudulent phone call that asks for passwords, credit card information, or personal information.
    • Website redirection schemes, called “pharming”: a hacker corrupts the DNS, which directs users to URL addresses, to redirect internet traffic to fraudulent websites that will collect personal information.[12]
    • Fax scams
    • ATM tampering
    • Debit and credit card machine tampering
    • Hacking into your computer or databases with personal information
    • Computer spyware, malware or viruses
    • Recovering deleted files from a used computer (bought second hand or  found in the garbage) 

Learn How to Identify Scams: 

  • In emails, words are often misspelled or the signed name does not coincide with the email address or country.[13]
  • Fraudulent emails, letters, or telephone calls will often conjure a sense of urgency to lessen the chance of reflection by the receiver.[14]
  • Fraudulent emails request personal information, legitimate emails from creditors or financial institutions normally do not.[15]
  • Fraudulent websites are often not secured. Secure websites have https:// in their URL, or a picture of a closed lock or key in the bottom right of the window.
  • Unexpected phone calls from creditors and banks, offers, and prizes are often scams.
  • Verify the identity of a caller or email by reinitiating contact with the appropriate phone number or email address from the phone book or legitimate company website.  

Test Your Knowledge:  

  • Take the online quizzes on scams, fraud, identity theft, and personal risk levels from www.abcfraud.ca Reporting email scams, fraud, and instances of identity theft to Phonebusters.  

Avoiding identity theft for businesses: 

Collection: 

  • Only collect required information, and acquire proper consent for it. 

Storage and Disposal: 

  • Lock up any personal information concerning both employees and clients in filing cabinets or password protect and encrypt this information on computers.
  • Install an alarm system and video cameras.
  • Install firewall, anti-virus, and spyware programs on your computer.
  • Update these programs regularly.
  • Discard unnecessary documents on a regular basis.
  • Shred any documents with personal information that you are discarding.
  • Keep public and private areas of your office separate: prevent public access to your computer server or files.
  • Limit employee access to sensitive files: only those who need it, and only what they need. 

Education:

Train employees in proper collection, disposal, and consent procedures.  

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