2. Learn how an identify thief collects information

Identity thieves collect information in different ways. You can try and prevent some, but not others.

They can steal information from your wallet, purse, home, or car. They may take bills and bank statements out of your mailbox. They may even look through your garbage and recycling bins for papers like your credit card or bank statement to get your .

Some identity thieves steal your information around places where you use your card, for example, a bank machine or a store’s sale terminal. They try to get your card number and PIN when you use it or use a gadget that reads and saves your information.

Identity thieves may try to trick you into giving them your personal information over the phone. They might pretend to be your bank, your employer, or someone who you owe money to, or even an old friend or relative. Or they may tell you that you won a big lottery or prize but you have to give them some information to send this prize to you.

They also use emails and fake websites to trick you. Their emails usually look like they are from banks or companies you deal with. The emails may ask you to click on a link that goes to a fake website that looks almost identical to the real one. Identity thieves collect your username and password when you try logging into the fake website.

Some of these tricks are called or skimming.

Identity thieves also create spyware and viruses. These are programs that collect and send information back when downloaded on a personal computer.

The question ‘How do I protect myself from identity theft tells you some of things you can do to try and keep your information safe.

Sometimes, identity thieves get your information illegally from companies you deal with. They may hack into the computer system of your card company or a store you have bought things from. Or they may buy your information from an employee who sells it to them illegally.

The question ‘What can I do if identity theft happens to me?’ tells you what to do when that happens.

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