Common Ways Thieves Steal Your Identity (And How You Can Prevent Them)

Common Ways Thieves Steal Your Identity (And How You Can Prevent Them)

June 25, 2014         Written By Natalie Rutledge

If you are worried about thieves trying to steal your identity, there are a variety of steps you can take to protect your personal data and critical information. There are a plethora of different technologies you can buy to keep your information safe online. But you can stay safe from potential identity thieves without buying pricey technology. It’s all about taking preventative measures. Here are some ways thieves steal your identity, and some steps you can take to avoid becoming a victim.

Creating Fake WiFi HotSpots

More individuals are using smartphones and tablets, so identity thieves are changing methods. They try to attack you where they believe you might be vulnerable—your WiFi connection. If you use WiFi when you go out, you’re not alone. However, you should beware of public WiFi options that are generic, such as those found in bakeries or department stores. Identity thieves can access your critical information once you allow your device to connect to these phony WiFi HotSpots. If you don’t feel that a WiFi connection is legitimate or safe, then you should skip using it. Going 4G can be the safer option if you aren’t sure about a WiFi connection.

Posing As A Legitimate Business

This is a typical scheme used by identity thieves, but it can take a variety of different forms. First, identity thieves can come to you personally, perhaps posing as a census agent or a company service representative. They might ask you for some information, like your name, that might not seem too critical. But if you seem particularly vulnerable, they’ll ask you for more information that could be very damaging to your finances if released. Never give out your personal information unless it is with a reputable organization where you have initiated the conversation. Don’t respond to unsolicited emails or calls for your personal information. Always be weary of requests for information that companies should already have.


Skimming occurs when your credit or debit card is swiped through a device that copies the data. Once your card has been copied, identity thieves use the card’s information to make phony cards and fraudulent purchases. You want to keep your card in your personal possession as much as possible. If your card is taken, at a restaurant by a server for example, make sure it never leaves your sight. Your finances are too valuable to allow someone to copy your credit card. Be vigilant, and ask for a manager if someone is taking too long with your credit card or if there is a strange device attached that an employee is fiddling with when using your card.

Going Through Trash Cans

This is an old school identity theft method. You should always be prepared for potential identity thieves mining your trash can. When your trash can is outside, you can’t always keep an eye on it. That’s why you should try to shred your important documents and financial statements. Better yet, switch away from paper statements and monitor your important information from secure connections online in your home. Shredding your documents should become a regular habit that is done on a weekly or monthly basis.

Stealing Your Wallet

Another old school method—but there are still some thieves that are going to steal your wallet. It usually happens when you leave your bag somewhere, or are in an unfamiliar location. Nevertheless, there are ways that you can fight this form of identity theft as well. Instead of bringing all of your personal documents with you each time you travel outside the home, take only one credit or debit card. In this way, thieves won’t have access to multiple financial products if they steal your wallet. Keep safe by making sure you only bring the credit or debit cards you need.

You can take these steps to avoid becoming a victim of identity theft. There are more thieves out there, using old and new tricks to steal money from potential victims. Prevention is key—you don’t want to be spending your time and money hiring a lawyer or working with bank or law enforcement officials. Staying vigilant and checking your credit report on a regular basis is a great first step. But you can also do things like shred your personal paper documents and carry fewer cards with you. Always stay aware of who has your credit card in a restaurant or a department store, and never divulge your personal information in a conservation that you did not start with a reputable source. You can keep your personal information safe, but you’ll have to be mindful of the necessary steps. Don’t fall prey to identity thieves and become a victim. Take charge and protect your personal data.

The information contained within this article was accurate as of June 25, 2014. For up-to-date information on any of the terms, cards or offers mentioned above, visit the issuer's website. Many of the offers on this article are from our affiliate partners, and may be compensated if you take action with any of our affiliate partners.


About Natalie Rutledge

Natalie Rutledge majored in Communications at Mississippi State University. She was in sales for a number of businesses and spent nine years working as a communications advisor to various entities. Natalie can be contacted directly at
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