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Updated on January 22, 2010


Identity theft is a kind of consumer fraud committed by thousands of people if not millions on a daily basis.

If I have access to your international passport, social security number, certificates, PIN (personal Identification Number), address, banks or credit card number, national identity card ATM number/PIN or if I can fake your voice, your signature (digital or normal), etc and use any of these information to my advantage then, I have stolen your identity (but you know I can’t do that LOL!)


Unlike the theft of tangible and physical assets, identity theft seems to be relatively easy for perpetrators to achieve. But, the good news is that the necessary security measures needed to protect oneself against identity theft is relatively easy also. Haaa!! Thank God, or didn’t you heave a sigh of relieve?


Before I go on giving you the security tips, I would first of all attempt to bring out the potential effects that identity theft can have on you if not checked. BINGO!


A perpetrator buys a one-off large item. This is the commonest effect that one can have on this.


Perpetrators take out outrageously large loans. This also is a fairly common thing that perpetrators can do.


Perpetrators can obtain phone line or dedicated IP Address with the aim of using it fraudulently. You will just be at home one day having good time with your loved ones and security agents will over to interrupt your peace. Though you eventually come out of it if you can prove your case, but, you will sure be stressed up before then


They can change your mailing address. I guess you know what this means? Your correspondences go to the wrong person.


Your medical benefits can be stolen. This is on the rise these days as medical expenses only look up and not down. Old people are hit most by this and you might be forced to service loans you never bargained for.


Perpetrators opens multiple credit card accounts with your name. When this happens, be sure to find your self into debt pretty soon.


Reports victim name as theirs when apprehended as suspects. Identity theft thieves can turn in your identity as theirs - especially your Social Security Number.   


Perpetrators files for bankruptcy under your name. Imagine the dent this will do to your reputation.


Perpetrators issues fake or counterfeit Cheque with your name, thereby making you face the consequences of bounced Cheque.


Your identity can be dropped in scene of crime. There is a guy in my neighbourhood who ran into problems with security agent just because his international passport was found in a robbery scene.


Do you know what ?all the above can not happen to you if identity thieves can not lay hands /have access to your personal information. And this will smoothly lead us into asking and all important question.


Identity theft fraudsters steal ones identity through any or combination of the following ways.




THEY FORM FAKE WASTE MANAGEMENT COMPANY This Company may be registered though, but their motive of establishing the company will be to gather people’s vital information that is innocently disposed by their clients.


They search for things like; pre-approved credit cards, tax information, health insurance scheme information, passwords written on rough piece of paper, social security number. In fact, any information that can be written down by their “supposed clients” ‘Consumers trash rummage’ is a term used to describe this process before now when it was done crudely. i.e. individuals fearfully search through people’s trash.


They quickly adopt this method immediately they notice that people have been enlightened about this method. So, you now know their new trick.


SKIMMING, CRACKING OR HACKING. Though, this is on the techie side but is widely used today. The most common variants are; the use of packet sniffers, protocol analyzers, foot printing, spoofing, brutal force, etc.


BRIBING AND OUT SMARTING EMPLOYEES. Fraudsters sometimes try conning employees into releasing company’s information to them when every attempt to bribe them fails.


THEY CAN SNEAK INTO YOUR HOMES AND STEAL YOUR INFORMATION. This is similar to physical theft but, varies is the sense that nothing tangible might actually be stolen.


BY CHANGING YOUR ADDRESS, YOUR MAILS CAN BE DIVERTED TO OTHER DESTINATION. Though there are measures now in place to counter this. So, you may really not worry over this any more.


THEY SOMETIMES ‘SHOULDER SURF’. This phrase is used to describe the situation when scammers pips through ones shoulder while the victim is inputting his or her personal financial details into a system.


ADVANCED FRAUDSTERS GO AS FAR AS CYBER-SQUATTING. Cyber-squatting is a situation where a scammer buys/ registers a domain name similar to a popular and established company. They use it to squeeze out users information.


Ok! Enough of this tricks of these negatively smart guys. Now is time to give some recommended security top tips.


Security measures against identity theft


1.               Confirm information that claims to originate from organizations where you have interest. For instance, call the branch manager/ office of your bank to confirm any correspondence/ representative that you may think comes from them. As simple as this may be, it is an effective way of countering some if not all forms of social engineering.

2.               Ensure that you don’t throw piece of paper that contains vital information into the trash.

3.               Take advantage of some security technologies. You can install a firewall/ Intruder detection system. You sure cannot do without installing powerful and active antivirus software on your machine. NOTE THAT EVEN THE BEST ANTIVIRUS SOFTWARE WILL BE USELESS IF NOT CONSTANTLY UPDATED!

4.               Good human resource management practice. If you have company(s) that deal on sensitive and vital information, good human resource management, which include incentives and the rest of them is your best bet.

5.               Beef up your physical security. You don’t keep sensitive information in an unprotected area. Always keep your computer room locked

6.               Don’t allow people to stay behind you while inputting your personal financial information into the system. Be polite and bold enough to ask whom ever it may be to excuse you.

7.               Contacting the post office at regular intervals. This especially is useful if you always receive sensitive document through the snail mail and stay for some time without hearing from them.

8.               Ensure that you can reasonably trust websites that you buy things from. Being skeptical may not be the right word to use, but, permit me to use it at this point. Though, there are laws governing cyber-squatting but, you still need to look out for certain features that will reasonably assure/ guarantee your online shopping security. Look out for internet security certification issued by CA (Certificate Authority) or and ‘S’ after the HTTP (giving you HTTPS instead of HTTP). The common seals are WebTrust, Trusecure and VeriSign, make sure they are there and you will be fine. Also look out for a yellow padlock sign after the address bar of your web browser.

9.               If you don’t know how to use FIREFOX BROWSERS please don’t use it as it has some password issues.

10.            Never click on links in your mail, a good practice is to copy and paste links in mails. By hovering your mouse on the link, you will see the real web address that is encoded/ hyperlinked in a link. This is shown at the status bar of your browser.

Am sure you did enjoy yourself. I have a blog post where you can get more useful insight on Financial identity theft. Why don’t you check it out?


To your personal financial l information security!




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    • ggordie profile image


      8 years ago from Palm Harbor, Florida

      great article! one of the biggest ways people commit these crimes is via social engineering and pretexting. those methods are a little harder to prevent.

    • chinweike profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Glasgow, UK

      @creation75 thanks for commenting

    • creation75 profile image


      9 years ago from India

      Very useful article.


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