How to Steal an Identity

This article's main purpose is to highlight how easy it is to steal an identity. I certainly do not condone identity theft and I take no responsibilities with how you choose to use any of the information about identity theft in this article. It's amusing to me how many times you can explain to people the importance of taking simple security measures to prevent identity theft and other types of security breeches, yet no one listens until something bad happens to them directly.

Or, people listen when you show them how easy it really is to do something - as in this case, steal an identity. This is why I've chosen this slant on the article - how to steal an identity, rather than how to prevent identity theft. We've all heard plenty of preventative measures, but let's face it, what gets our attention are the "how they did it" stories. So, here's the story of one way to easily steal an identity.

CNN Interviews Identity Thief

Hi-Tech Identify Theft Tools Required

1. A modern cell phone (with camera and video)

2. A pulse

How to Steal an Identity in 2 Easy Steps

1. Use your cell phone to take a picture of someone's business card.

2. Use your cell phone to video someone typing in their password.

Identity Theft
Identity Theft

Good Intro Video to Identity Theft

What Information Is Required to Steal an Identity?

  1. Name
  2. Date of Birth
  3. Social Security Number

Why the 2 Easy Identity Theft Steps Work

There are several reasons why this is so easy:

  • I don't know why, but for some reason a lot of people tape their business card to their computer or laminate the business card and attach it to their laptop bag. This makes it easy for you to simply snap a shot of someone's business card. I know, you're thinking, a business card? Yep - the business card gives you a couple critical bits of information - the username and domain name, hidden in the form of an email address. For instance, if I give someone my business card and it has my email address as kea@hubpages.com, you know my username is "kea" and I will more than likely logon to a website similar to https://mail.hubpages.com to check my hubpages email.
  • I travel very frequently and you'd be surprised at how many people at the airport have their business card out in the open and logon to their computer and corporate email server without making any effort to hide what they are typing. It's also alarming to me how many people don't know how to type - this makes it even easier to capture them typing a password!
  • Because people are oblivious to this identity theft technique, it's easy to take a picture of the business card and record password typing with your cell phone. Next time you're at the airport, coffee shop, or anywhere with wireless access or with a lot of people with laptop computers, take notice of how many people are doing something with their cell phones....you won't stand out, even if what you're doing is taking pictures of business cards or shooting video of someone typing. Just be sure to turn off that camera noise that some phones make when you snap a shot :)

Dell's Mail Server

This is where I was redirected when I tried https://mail.dell.com
This is where I was redirected when I tried https://mail.dell.com

Tips to Prevent Your ID from Being Stolen

As I mentioned earlier, I mainly put this together to increase awareness. I'm not at all advocating stealing identities. Here are some simple rules to follow to prevent your identity from being stolen, by someone using the tactics described in this article.

1. Don't tape your business card to your laptop or laminate it and put it on your laptop bag.

2. If you're in a public place (airport, coffee shop, etc.) and you need to enter your username and password, do so discreetly and make sure no one is observing you or has a cell phone pointed in your direction :)

3. Preferably, find a seat with your back against a wall to prevent people from viewing your screen.

You Have the Picture and Video - Now What?

This takes a little skill and experience, but if you got a clean shot of a business card you know the username and domain, as I mentioned earlier. Now, it's just a matter of finding out the web address for the email server. Here's an example:

1. Let's say the last business card you snapped a shot of was for someone that worked at Dell Computers - domain name: dell.com.

2. Here's what I tried to get the mail server:

- http://mail.dell.com - this timed out

- https://mail.dell.com - this worked and brought me to the logon screen

It's not always this easy - some companies use different names for the mail server, like "owa.company.com," but in my experience most companies use "mail.company.com" with https.

NOTE: You can eliminate this guesswork by snapping a shot of the person's screen as they bring up their company email server - you can get the URL (address) from the picture.

3. Getting the password from the video - this is a little trickier and requires some experience. Ideally, you would have started the recording when you notice the user at a logon prompt, preferably one to the email server. To get the password from the video, copy the video from your phone to your computer and replay it in slow motion until you figure out the pattern.

4. Yes, I know, you're thinking....okay, so what I have access to a person's email account...big deal, right? Maybe, but most likely, you can find enough information about a person from his inbox and sent items to steal his identity. Just logon every now and then and peruse the person's emails for key bits of information, like social security number, address (usually in the Global Address List), birthday, etc. Without going into great detail, to avoid getting caught, you should disguise your IP address and computer information prior to logging on with the stolen credentials!

5. OK, so what if you don't find enough information to steal the identity? Well, if you're really bored, you can send emails using the compromised account...use your imagination on this one.


Disclaimer

I take no responsibility for any actions you take, based on any information contained in this article. I do, however, hope you learned something and are now more vigilant about your own security!

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Comments 18 comments

sheila b. profile image

sheila b. 6 years ago

Since I don't want to steal anyone's identity - sometimes I'm not sure of my own! - I wasn't enthused about reading this hub, but I thought maybe it was just what you made it, a lesson in how to protect ourselves. And after reading your hub, I realize how much information someone could get from my email account. Wow!


kea profile image

kea 6 years ago Author

@Sheila b - thanks for reading...yes, it is scary how easy it is for someone to gain access to your information. I think the more informed we are about these sort of tactics, the better, although, after awhile you kind of become paranoid :)


Hello, hello, profile image

Hello, hello, 6 years ago from London, UK

Thank you for your well written hub which ais an eye-opener.


kea profile image

kea 6 years ago Author

@Hello, hello - thx for the comment. I hope you found the information useful. Cheers.


vhwang7 6 years ago

That's so true, it is so easy to steal anyone's identity these days. I had mine stolen a while ago and it caused a whole lot of legal and financial mess which was finally resolved a couple of months ago! Be careful, everyone!


kea profile image

kea 6 years ago Author

@vhwang7 - thanks for the comment. Sorry to hear you had your identity stolen - that sucks. A friend has his stolen and it took him almost a year to get everything ironed out. Cheers.


save my system profile image

save my system 6 years ago from United Kingdom - London

Nice information.Whatever your mention mistakes are big eye opener. Thief makes advantage of your marketing strategies and you are completely unaware of it. Make your all important files password protected. Spam protection also helps to reduce data thief. However, You can take legal protection for identity thief all you have to suffer from whole lot of headache.


kea profile image

kea 6 years ago Author

@save my system - thx for the comment! Good advice - SPAM protection is majorly important, as a lot of bots get on systems from phishing attacks. Cheers.


2patricias profile image

2patricias 6 years ago from Sussex by the Sea

Pat writes: some while ago I had a problem renewing my passport because somebody who claimed to be me had borrowed money from a Consulate Office (of my country) in a rather exotic country. They had failed to repay and it was on my record. I didn't know until it was time to renew my passport. This person (and I never found out who it really was) had my full name, DOB and knew my passport number. I can only guess that on some occasion they had followed me as I checked onto a plane. Now that I have read your hub, it strikes me that maybe they used a camera.

This is a helpful hub. I hope it makes readers more careful in public places.


kea profile image

kea 6 years ago Author

@2patricias - thanks for the comment! Sorry you had that issue with your passport. Yes, you have to be careful...there's a camera everywhere these days. Cheers.


hypnodude profile image

hypnodude 6 years ago from Italy

Knowing how these things happen is the best way to defend ourselves from them. Well done kea. Thumbs up!


kea profile image

kea 6 years ago Author

@hypnodude - thanks for the comment! I agree, knowing the bad guys' tactics, allow us to better defend ourselves.


brimancandy profile image

brimancandy 5 years ago from Northern Michigan

I had something strange happen to me when I was at Mich works, which is a mandatory place that the unemployment office sends you to, to do job searches. While you are there, you are required to fill out an online resume before you can get approved for unemployment.

This resume is done on a computer, in a room full of other people on computers doing job searches. It's all fill in the blank, which requires all of your personal information, before you can move from one screen to the next to complete the process.

Well, I was sitting there, and there was a guy sitting at the computer next to me, who was constantly looking at what I was putting on my screen. He also had a girl standing over his shoulder, who appeared to be helping him, and writing things down on a piece of paper. I had a feeling they were copying what I was writing.

Another weird experience was at a casino ATM. There was quite a line of people extracting money, and I noticed one man who was standing near the ATM's holding his cell phone up in the air, pointed directly at the ATM's, and he was doing this for quite some time. I'm sure he was there recording people's credit card numbers and pin numbers with his phone. So, I decided not to use that ATM, and I reported it to a security guard.

The security guard went over and stood right in front of the guy with the cell phone, blocking his view of the ATM, and you could see him trying to move the phone around him, I think he figured out why the guard was there and left. People are very sneaky.


dell computers 5 years ago

This article is eye opener. really interesting article. thanks for shearing.


Dell Computers 5 years ago

It’s really an interesting fact which I just got to know via this blog. Making this blog and keeping it updated is the best possible thing which customer always ask for. So I would like to thank for this interesting knowledge given by the moderator!


loneWOLF 4 years ago

my mother actually "stole" my identity so how to i get what she used with my social off of my credit score?


Millionaire Tips profile image

Millionaire Tips 4 years ago from USA

I would imagine that once you had a password, you could try it other places as well, since many people use the same password at numerous sites. Great info here.


Dell computers 4 years ago

As tecnolgy improves these kind of cases can easily handle or safe your system. But with technology so many ideas makes security less. thanks for shear this important topic blog.

http://www.electrocomputerwarehouse.com/

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