There are many ways that identity thieves can start building a new you, for their own personal gain. Some go Old School and use the “physical” way, others are slicker and have tech savvy to steal your information online. And then there’s the organized crime, the Internet Mafia types who will collect your data when they attack large corporations or your small company where you work, go to the doctor, or shop.

Here are some of the top ways your identity is at risk, broken into categories of how criminals are lurking for you.

Old School

Mail Theft. The postal worker drops off an unsolicited credit card offer in your mailbox when you’re at work. Before you get home, someone has gone to the unlocked box, taken that offer, and have the elements needed to start becoming you, and apply for credit.

Trash and Recycle bins. Think twice about what you are putting in the trash bin, recycle bin or any other waste receptacle. When you put it on the street, you open the door for any passerby to dig in, take your papers and start wreaking havoc on your identity. Best practice is to shred with a cross-cut shredder, any information (paper or computer equipment) that you think might have ANY information about you before getting rid of it.

ATM and card skimming. This one requires a keen eye. When you use an ATM, gas pump, self-checkout, or hand your credit or debit card over to a clerk, look for the scanning equipment and anything that looks weird or put of place. There are many contraptions today that criminals are placing over legitimate card readers to gather your data.


Email phishing. We’ve all seen the Nigerian Prince scam emails – those are pretty obvious. But sophisticated criminals will send an email to your account, pretending to be your bank, your credit card company, or any other business or utility you use on a daily or monthly basis. They will clone a trusted logo and make these emails look official and authentic. They are trying to get you to click a link and provide log in data that can open the door to all of your accounts. Always be wary of unsolicited emails.

Spyware. Ads pop up all the time while we surf the Internet. Sometimes an offer looks great and we click it. Sometimes we accidently click the ads as well. Some of these times, these ads contain spyware that will infect your computer or mobile device and plant the seeds on your system to mine the data it needs. It’s smart to have spyware blockers installed on al of your systems.

Data Breach

Unfortunately, data breach is a top method in which criminals steal your identity, and it can be out of your control. Organized cyber crime is a top crime in the U.S. today. There are a multitude of ways that criminals can a breach your company’s HR department, your doctor’s office, or your favorite retail outlet, and it’s your identity that’s on the line. Your identity’s safety really depends on what security measures are in place at these organizations. The best protection is to be proactive. When a data breach happens, and you are part of the affected population, you may be offered an identity theft protection service for a year. But what if you’re not given any safety net like this? Enroll in ID Mentor’s identity theft protection service now so your bases will be covered.