Identity theft is a crime that has long been in the news. Unfortunately, it is also a crime that is still occurring on an all-too-frequent basis. People discover that they are the victims of identity theft on a daily basis. Here’s what you need to know.

The crime is one in which a person obtains someone else’s personal identification information. This may include a Social Security number, driver’s license number, or even bank account information. The purpose of obtaining this private information is to obtain services, merchandise, or credit in the name of the victim. Not only does the criminal use the information for these purposes, but they may also use it to create an entirely new identity of their own.

Law enforcement classifies identity theft in two ways: account takeover and true name. Account takeover means that the person utilizes accounts that are already in place. They will often change the address on the account, running up large bills before the victim even knows what happened.

True name identity theft occurs when a criminal uses personal information to set up new accounts. These may include bank accounts, credit card accounts, and even cellular phone accounts. This is often the more aggravating type of identity theft as it can take years to unravel and recover from.

Thieves can obtain the personal information from others in a variety of ways. A savvy thief may crack an online database and steal information that way. More common, though, is the person who utilizes old-fashioned methods. Dumpster diving and the retrieval of discarded mail is still the tried and true method of stealing identities.

Shoulder surfing is another method of obtaining information. Thieves stand in very close proximity to victims at ATM machines, in checkout lines, or at public offices. By looking over the shoulder of a victim as they complete transactions, thieves can very quickly discover all they need to know.

Knowing how identity theft works is one of the first ways to protect yourself. Stay aware of your surroundings, shred your mail, and change online passwords frequently. None of these ways are foolproof, but they do go a long way in keeping your identity safe.

If you have been arrested for a crime, you need an experienced attorney on your side. Contact our law offices now to speak with a member of our team. First consultations are always free. Call us today.

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