Identity Theft Innovations

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1) A Recent Visit To the Police Station

If you have not yet seen the film Identity Thief with Jason Bateman and Melissa McCarthy (Jenny McCarthy's cousin), see it - if only to see how easy it is to steal identities and to what lengths the "pros" go to grab your information.

I recently learned of an innovation in ID theft that can occur on the street, in addition to pickpocketing and lifting wallets and purses.

On the way to do some errands one morning, I noticed in my rear-view mirror a late-model SUV cruising three cars behind me, weaving in and out of traffic.The female driver swerved to the right shoulder of the roadway, then crowded in between my vehicle and the car behind me, tailgated dangerously close, slapped her iPhone on her dashboard, and took pictures of my license plate. My vehicle did, in fact, look rather newer than those around me, so perhaps she felt I had money.

I make it a habit to put very little personal information useful to thieves on the Internet or anywhere else, but a vehicle registration in my state is a giveaway of free information that someone can use for ID theft. For a fee, one can take a license plate number to the main office of the BMV and purchase the information.

Under The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), Title 5 of the United States Code, section 552, any person has the right to request access to public records: DUI and DWI records, criminal records, arrests, court records, warrants and more.

The quickest way to stop a photo-snapping driver in this situation is this:

STOP TAKING MY PICTURE!
STOP TAKING MY PICTURE! | Source

Advice from our local police:

If you notice an erratic driver and can photograph or copy down the license plate number of the vehicle, call the number in to the police department by dialing 911. Police cruisers may be in the area that can effectively and quickly stop the driver.

In addition, if the driver was taking pictures of your license plate, you, or your vehicle, report this to the 911 dispatcher as well. The police can investigate.

2) Mail Theft

Another way to fall prey to ID theft is to experience stolen mail. I receive very little mail, because I do not fill out special offers that require my address or telephone number. For personal business, I long ago moved everything to secure and paperless online services and use only secure Internet access.

In the past, I have had 2 roommates that stole mail and tried in every way to discover my Social Seurity Number, banks name and accounts, and other personal information. Using a post office box and secure online services prevented this from happening.

You may also try a lock on your mail box, although those can often be picked or broken.

3) PayPal Payments

If you pay at the cash register with your PayPal card, either by swiping the card and entering a password or by using the newest method of simply entering a phone number without swiping the card, be aware of the dangers of these methods of payment --

At the auto parts and supply store one day, I used my card and after the transaction was completed, a new clerk asked for my email address. I asked what for and he said he needed to type it into the computer. I pointed out that the transaction was over and, therefore, there was no place to type in the email address. The clerk had hoped to obtain my email address and hack into it and my PayPal account.

When using PayPal at the cash register in any store, do not provide your email address or telephone number to the cashier.

At drive through windows, clerks sometimes ask for zip codes or telephone numbers for "surveys"- do not provide this information.

4) False Job Offers and Prizes

Another method used to gain personal information is the bunko telephone call to you for a mareting survey, a free vacation, a fake credit card account with noi fees, or a phony job offer. A caller will advise you of a fake job offer at a good salary or a free prize of some sort, or other offer and then proceed to request personal information. They want your full legal name, birth date, address, Social Security Number, credit card number for a "processing fee", banking information, and/or other particulars. This type of scam is often tareted at senior citizens, but can involve anybody with a phone.

If you have Caller ID on a landline or have a cellphone that records incoming numbers, hang up and report the incoming phone number to the police department or your State Attorney General's Office in a complaint.

Remember that since children require Social Security Numbers at birth for IRS purposes and fraud prevention, that ID thieves may target your children. In fact, a friend's daughter applied for her first credit card at age 18 and found that she already had a low credit rating involving several credit cards she knew nothing about. Farther back in time, dolls called Cabbage Patch Kids were issued Birth Certificates that resulted in Social Security Numbers received "for fun", but the dolls were claimed as dependents on IRS returns. There's a new scam every decade.

Be careful of photographers in the shadows.
Be careful of photographers in the shadows. | Source

5) Job Applications

A controversial matter in ID Theft is the matter of needing to supply your Social Security Number on a job application before being interviewed or hired.

Because of Identity Theft, I refuse to provide my Social Security Number on a job application and I refrain from placing my address and Social Security Number on my resume. I do provide my cellphone number and email address on my resume. These two pieces of information can, indeed, be used for hacking into PayPal accounts, but after one such past incident, PayPal notifies me with messages about unusual account activity, as does my bank.

In related matters, pre-employment credit checks have been found to be unrelated to job performance and results and in recent years been outlawed by increasing numbers of US States. Other, background, checks are still legal, but require your written permission.

Job applications, resumes, and personnel files are to be kept in a locked file cabinet or other locked area and the information on any of these is not to be given to the public. However, isolated cases have been found of some staff person accessing applications and files for potential ID Theft information.

If you suspect some irregularity in your information security, you can often lock your personal credit file with the credit bureaus to prevent new account from opening without your permission, for a fee. In Ohio, this fee is about $5.00 per bureau.

Hoping for a relaxing ride home without pictures...

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Identity Theft and You

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Comments 7 comments

Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 3 years ago from North America Author

During undergraduate days at college and work, I walked, took a bus in bad weather, and even rode a bicycle. When I went to the Registrar's Office during my sophomore autumn, the clerk asked me for which of the 12 vehicles registered in my name did I wish to purchase parking stickers!?


joym7 profile image

joym7 3 years ago from United States

Nice interesting tips. I always be careful about my identity online. In today's market identity theft has become a most happening cyber crime in the world.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 3 years ago from North America Author

joym7 - That is a good observation; ID Theft is really a big business.


torrilynn profile image

torrilynn 3 years ago

Hi Patty Inglish,

thanks for this interesting hub,

I never knew that identity theft can happen in many

different ways. this has opened up my mind and helped me to

be more cautious when I'm in public or even online.

voted up.


livingsta profile image

livingsta 3 years ago from United Kingdom

This is so much useful information. I find it really scary how hackers find ways to hack every new technology that is invented. I myself have been a victim of identity fraud in the past and still dealing with the outcomes. Thank you so much again for this information, never knew about some of these.

Voting and sharing!


seigfried23 profile image

seigfried23 14 months ago

Very useful info on ID theft. I'm not sure that the police can actually do anything if someone is taking pictures of your car, though - unless they're threatening you or something. http://pinstor.us/articles/identity-theft-11-of-th...


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 14 months ago from North America Author

The driver tailgated me, took pictures, began speeding, cut me off, and nearly ran me off the road (and drove very fast down the road), so I filed a police report, since I copied the license plate number. I have not learned the result of the filing. A few charges could have been levied, since intersection surveillance cameras were operating (no red light cameras, but other surveillance appearing all over the city). Next time, I'll call the police immediately.

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