Identity Theft Statistics Paint a Frightening Picture

When you are con­sid­er­ing whether or not to pur­chase an iden­tity theft pro­tec­tion plan, prob­a­bly the first bit of research you will do is check iden­tity theft sta­tis­tics. They give you an idea of just how vul­ner­a­ble you really are before you choose your cov­er­age. Some will tell you that you don’t need iden­tity theft pro­tec­tion but when you look at the sta­tis­tics, the facts tell you oth­er­wise. Agen­cies such as the Iden­tity Theft Resource Cen­ter (ITRC) based in San Diego, Cal­i­for­nia and Javelin Strat­egy & Research based in Pleasan­ton, Cal­i­for­nia con­duct stud­ies to col­lect these statistics.

Do the Sta­tis­tics Cre­ate the Need?

After exam­in­ing all of these alarm­ing sta­tis­tics, the ques­tion remains: Do you need iden­tity theft pro­tec­tion? You will have to admit that the num­bers are not small. Con­sider also that these days we con­duct a large por­tion of our finan­cial trans­ac­tions on the inter­net and most all of use ATMs. Can you really afford to be exploited by an iden­tity theft? How much expense are you will­ing to go through to fix the dam­age done? And, after it’s all fixed, what if it hap­pens again? Unless you’re an expert in iden­tity theft and fraud detec­tion, do you really know what to look for? As you exam­ine the sta­tis­tics that fol­low, keep these ques­tions at the fore­front of your mind.

Sta­tis­tics Related to Incidence

Accord­ing to a study done by Javelin in 2010, the instances of iden­tity theft were sum­ma­rized into a chart. It is no sur­prise that the high­est occur­rence of these crime inci­dents were related to mak­ing pur­chases either online or in per­son. Here is what they found.

In-person pur­chases – 42%

Online pur­chases – 42%

Mail/phone pur­chases – 21%ATM with­drawals – 10%

Writ­ing checks – 10%

Gift cards, pur­chase attempts, bill pay, obtain­ing a new credit card, obtain­ing health care, in-person cash with­drawal – less than 7%
As you can see, if you use a credit card either online or in-person, you are at more than a 4 in 10 chance of becom­ing an iden­tity theft vic­tim. Those odds are rather high. In 2007, the U.S. Depart­ment of Jus­tice esti­mated that 6.6% or 7.9 mil­lion house­holds had at least one mem­ber who was a vic­tim of this crime. While this sta­tis­tic makes the odds a lit­tle bet­ter, con­sider that com­pared to 2005, it was a 23% increase. The Depart­ment of Jus­tice also reported in 2007 that 30% of house­holds had at least $500 stolen from them due to an iden­tity theft inci­dent. Can you really afford to lose $500 or more?

Sta­tis­tics after the Crime

Just using your credit card online puts you at a 40% greater risk of being a vic­tim of iden­tity theft.

Sta­tis­tics after the crime are related to how long it takes for a per­son to real­ize he or she is a vic­tim. Credit mon­i­tor­ing ser­vices reduce the lull time between the crime and dis­cov­ery of it. Accord­ing to Javelin, a lit­tle under half (48%) of the total reported iden­tity theft inci­dents were dis­cov­ered by the vic­tims. This indi­cates that 4-5 out of 10 peo­ple are mon­i­tor­ing there credit files or state­ments and report­ing when some­thing looks out of place. Yet this fig­ure still indi­cates that the other half of the pop­u­la­tion is not mon­i­tor­ing their infor­ma­tion at all. Not mon­i­tor­ing could mean that it could take months to years to detect after sig­nif­i­cant dam­age has taken place.

The impor­tance of reg­u­lar mon­i­tor­ing of your credit file is crit­i­cal for timely action when the crime occurs.

What it all Costs

What is really dis­turb­ing as shown by iden­tity theft sta­tis­tics is the ris­ing costs to con­sumers for this type of crime. Javelin pub­lished a chart com­par­ing 2006 con­sumer mis­ap­pro­pri­ated funds to the same cat­e­gory for 2010. It is alarm­ing to find a total of $176,397 mis­ap­pro­pri­ated funds com­pared to the 2006 total of $75,000. It shows a 234% increase in what this crime costs to consumers.

Now that you know some of the stats, isn’t it time you got some pro­tec­tion?  To select a credit monitoring plan, read our review of the top 10 monitoring companies.

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Have You Been A Victim of Spoofing?

Learning the language of identity theft can be a difficult prospect. We’ve talked about phishing, smishing, & vishing an and even oversharing in the past. We’ve examined how identity protection programs like Identity Guard can put you in an offensive position against most of these threats. Today, however, we’re going to be talking about what is known as “spoofing.” Sounds funny and relatively harmless right?  Spoofing is the alteration of an e-mail header so that it appears to have been sent from someone other than the person who sent the e-mail. Now there are legal forms of spoofing, such as disguising your identity for fear of retaliation. Spoofing anyone other than yourself, however, is quite illegal… and an easy way for identity thieves to fool you into thinking that you’ve got to do something that you don’t really need to do.

How is spoofing even possible? Because the STMP, or Simple Mail Transfer Protocol, doesn’t actually include any authentication mechanism. Although a security level can be negotiated by someone who is utilizing SMTP, this is often not done. When there is no security level in place, anyone with a computer, access to the internet, and just a little bit of knowledge can log into the e-mail server itself and send messages out as anyone on behalf of any corporation.

For the most part, we can recognize these ridiculous e-mails and simply delete them without falling victim to them. It’s pretty easy to do when you get an e-mail supposedly from Bank of America saying that you need to take action before your account is closed even though you’ve never done business with Bank of America. On the other hand, an e-mail that appears to be from someone like your supervisor or even your spouse asking for sensitive data to be sent for a legitimate sounding reason can be something that fools a lot of people.

E-mail spoofing is nothing new – identity thieves figured out this process back when e-mails first started getting sent around the internet, so it’s a two decades plus old problem… but that’s the issue – it’s still a problem today despite education and self-awareness programs. So what can you do to make sure that you don’t fall victim to a spoofing scam?

If you do get an e-mail that seems suspicious, contact your financial institution in person.

Forward the e-mail to your financial institution’s customer service and ask for an explanation.

Remember to never share sensitive information unless you can verify the website, you notice it is secure, and you’ve visited that exact login location before.

Contact others immediately if you feel that you may have been fooled by an exceptional spoofer.

When in doubt, just delete the e-mail and move on.

Smishing Can Smash Your Identity

Many folks are aware of the prob­lem of phish­ing, where you get a strange e-mail inform­ing you that you’ve won some e-mail lot­tery, or that your account has been locked and you need to ver­ify your infor­ma­tion to unlock it, or even that some­one you know is in trou­ble some­where and they need your mon­e­tary help to be able to get home. This causes you to will­ingly give your infor­ma­tion over to the iden­tity thieves in the hopes of get­ting a return on that infor­ma­tion in some way. Smish­ing is sim­i­lar to this prac­tice, but it involves attempt­ing to get your infor­ma­tion from a SMS text that you receive.

Smish­ing involves receiv­ing a very tempt­ing text that seems rather believ­able. It could say that you’ve won a $1,000 gift card to one of your favorite stores, that you’ve won a free vaca­tion, that you’ve been signed up for a web­site that will cost you $5/day if you don’t unsub­scribe, or even that your spouse has lost their phone and needs help at this new num­ber. The vari­ables are absolutely end­less, but there is one thing in com­mon with them all: that you don’t remem­ber enter­ing into a con­test, sign­ing up for any­thing, or that your loved ones wouldn’t text you in such a way if they were in trouble.

That doesn’t stop peo­ple from click­ing on that included link some­times from their smart­phone – you know, on the off-chance that it might be true and they might be able to pur­chase a new PS3 or some­thing. If you’re one of those folks who ends up click­ing those links sometimes, as one of my favorite authors would put it – don’t panic! Click­ing a link might trans­mit some data about your phone to the poten­tial iden­tity thieves and you might have some mal­ware installed, but noth­ing that is irrecov­er­able. The trou­ble comes when you start putting in your per­sonal details to sub­mit through the link where Smish­ing becomes an issue.

If you are curi­ous about a SMS link that you have received and you want to inves­ti­gate it, an easy way to get around some of the issues is to plug the link you receive into a web browser on your com­puter that has cur­rent anti-virus, anti-spyware, and anti-malware def­i­n­i­tions. This way, if the link isn’t a true prize, you will be pro­tected through your com­puter instead of hav­ing your smart­phone exposed that is likely run­ning no pro­tec­tions whatsoever.

Another easy way to deter­mine if a SMS text you have received is legit­i­mate is to sim­ply call the cus­tomer ser­vice depart­ment of the com­pany in ques­tion, like your bank, or to con­tact your loved ones on your own to ver­ify the story. If you have won some­thing or have been signed up for some­thing with­out your per­mis­sion, con­tact­ing a com­pany directly will give you the accu­rate infor­ma­tion you need. In the off chance that there are charges on your credit or debit account that aren’t sup­posed to be there, you can imme­di­ately con­test them.

Some other easy ways that you can help to pro­tect your­self from Smish­ing schemes are:

  • to not reply to the SMS text;
  • to teach our kids about Smish­ing so they don’t become vic­tims as well;
  • to for­ward a copy of the Smish­ing text to your cell phone provider to alert them to the scheme;
  • to place a fraud alert on your credit report if you believe you may have inad­ver­tently given sen­si­tive infor­ma­tion away; or
  • to sign up for a com­pre­hen­sive iden­tity theft pro­tec­tion plan from a pre­ferred provider.

If you believe that you have been a vic­tim of a Smish­ing scam, you should also file a com­plaint at, and then be sure to visit the remain­der of this site so that you can learn what you can do to help pre­vent this from hap­pen­ing to you again in the future. Protecting your iden­tity is becom­ing more and more crit­i­cal with every pass­ing day. Know­ing what Smish­ing is and not falling into its trap is just another way that you can fight the evils of iden­tity theft and not let the crim­i­nals win.

The Hidden Dangers of Wi-Fi

Are you truly aware of the risks that you take when you are using public computers or Wi-Fi to access social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest? Free Wi-Fi is literally everywhere you look these days and it is a big selling point for many businesses. I can even get free Wi-Fi while I’m waiting for my doctor in that tiny little room filled with magazines that are three years old. Free Wi-FI at fast food establishments or the ever popular cyber coffee cafe often appeals to people as well.  There are, in fact, many people who may end up spending many hours being active on social networks while on public Wi-Fi or at a public computer every single day. That fact alone is enough to consider getting a professional protection plan like you can get with Identity Guard or another service like Norton WiFi privacy which will turn a public wifi network in to secure, private connection.

Public Wi-Fi Has Many Hidden Dangers

When was the last time you actually remembered to log off of Facebook? Many of us simply close the browser or shut the lid down on our laptop when we’re finished with what we’re doing. That’s all well and good when you’re at home, but if you’re playing the latest Zynga game with your friends over your lunch break and you do that, the next user who logs into the public network can actually access your browser information and reload it.

How? Modern web browsers have a recover feature to them. In literally just a couple clicks of a mouse, someone can open up all the browser windows someone had open, and let’s be honest here – we all have a lot of them open. Heck I’ve got 12 tabs up right now! From a social network to e-mail to plenty of other items I might have up, there is likely more than one bit of identification information someone can get from anyone’s browser history.

Your Own Computer Can Be Accessed on Public Wi-Fi

If you don’t have a password on your personal computer or you’ve got a terrible password on it like “12345″ or “password,” then change it now or get a password on there. Literally go do it now and come back to finish reading this post. Why? Because when you’re on a public wi-fi network at the same time someone else is, they can have full access to whatever is on your personal computer if it doesn’t have a password or it’s a password that is easy to crack. That’s right – just bringing your own personal computer to a public network is not enough to protect you.

The Consequences Can Be Financially Grave

For some people, the only thing they experience when they make a mistake like those mentioned above is to have someone post something derogatory on their social networks or maybe send out a few spam e-mails as a joke. For others, just one mistake can lead to an identity theft incident that can result in their credit score being hit so hard by credit fraud or other financially fraudulent activities that it can make it nearly impossible to get the credit lines needed without investing a great amount of time in repair and recovery… and even then it’s not 100% guaranteed that they’ll get what they need anyway.

Logging off and putting on a password is really all it takes to increase your identity theft protection levels on your own. For some people that simple step is enough. For others who think they might have some exposure or just want to be careful, there are many identity theft protection plans available, from free ones to high cost all encompassing ones, that can give you the level of protection you need. Whatever the case may be, make sure you are limiting your exposure to an identity theft incident as much as you can every day so that you can secure your financial future.

Credit Report Errors Might Be Identity Theft

There is always a downside to the efficiency that modern technology provides. While it is more convenient to carry a credit card instead of bulky cash, your identity becomes vulnerable due to the information you have provided to apply for the card. More so, you become almost too exposed with credit bureaus collecting information about you when creditors ask for it. Before you know it, you could be a victim of identity theft.

How do you know that your identity has possibly been stolen? There some telltale signs that someone is assuming your identity and one of them is when your application for a credit card, loan or insurance gets rejected due to low credit score yet you are sure that you have paid your bills on time. You can also be a victim of identity theft if a debt collector demands that you pay your credit card account that has been overdue yet you never had a credit card. It is also a sign that you are a victim of stolen identity if you receive, through mail, a credit card that you have never applied for.

If you suspect that your identity is stolen, immediately report it to credit bureaus. Place a fraud alert, which will initially last for 90 days according to the provisions of the Fair Credit Reporting Act FRCA, and ask for a copy of your true credit report. You will then receive an e-mail of your rights as a victim of stolen identity from credit bureaus. You can ask for an extension of the fraud alert for up to seven years for as long as you have evidences that your identity is indeed being used by another person. You can cancel the fraud alerts anytime the case has been solved.

Once you get credit report from credit bureaus, immediately review the reports and look for fraudulent accounts and erroneous information. Report to the credit bureau, from which you receive your report, any anomaly that you see. Your notification will require the credit bureaus block the information from future credit reports and notify creditors of the fraudulent accounts. Check your credit reports manually or sign up for credit monitoring to get the names and contact details of the credit grantors of the fraudulent account and ask the bureau for those details if they have not included it in your report.

These are just the initial steps that you can take once you notice that someone else has assumed your identity. From here, you can proceed to more complicated measures such as freezing your account and asking the assistance of your local law enforcers. Identity theft can ruin your life if you do not act on it quickly.  So be aware and stay on top of what’s going on with your credit reports.

Fact and Fiction about Posting your Resume Online

As national unemployment figures continue to remain high, you can find cybercriminals cashing in on the wave of applicants posting resumes to a range of job banks and other employment websites.  Both and were hit with a monster-size breach in the past that allowed thieves to confiscate personal information such as IDs and passwords, email addresses, phone numbers, DOBs, and more.  Earlier this year, the Cyber Investigation Unit of the FBI reported an uptick in the number of employment schemes from mystery/secret shoppers to envelope stuffing to courier services scams, all involving victims that had relinquished their bank account data, social security numbers and other personal identifying information online.

In this current economic climate it’s never been more important to circulate a resume, and cybertheives have never been more interested in finding your resume to make a profit rather than finding you employment. The key to attracting legitimate employers is to recognize when and where to post your resume, and what job offers to respond to and which ones to ignore.  Minimize your risks online by discouraging fraudulent businesses from approaching you.

Fact or Fiction – It’s OK to post your resume to a job site that does not have a privacy policy.

This is pure fiction. If the job bank or job site does not have a privacy policy, you may have no recourse if you run into problems.  Without it, employment websites can legally archive your information for years.  A privacy policy explains how the business plans to handle your personal data.  As you review the policy, look for how the company plans to store, use or share your information and find specific statements about registration and the length of time they keep your resume on file.  If the job site does not offer you the option to delete your resume, look elsewhere.  Your resume and personal information belong to you and not the site.  Most reputable employment sites have deletion instructions posted on their site.  In fact, employment sites do share resumes.  Job seekers have found that after posting to one site their resume mysteriously shows up at other job sites without the benefit of registration. So when in doubt always ask or consult a job site’s policy information.

Fact or Fiction – Posting your resume as “private” will hinder your chances employers.

Some applicants feel that by making employers take additional steps to obtain their resume, the company will quickly lose interest.  But the fact is your legal name, address, phone number, work history and even your references, when posted publicly, can potentially fall into the hands of identity thieves.  Most employment websites do offer a privacy feature that allows applicants to hide private information.  If you should decide to post to an employment site that does not offer this option, use a disposable email address and purchase a P.O. Box at your local post office.  Replace your current contact information with the disposable email and PO Box on your resume.  You’ll be avoiding possible risks should the online job site have a data breach.

Fact or Fiction – Including your references when posting your resume will increase your chances of getting the job.

While it may or may not increase your chances with potential employers, the fact remains that you need to consider that your reference’s contact information is available to everyone that views or downloads your resume.  You’re placing their private information at risk, which is not the best way to handle references should you need them in the future.Fact or Fiction – Always disclose your education information.

This statement falls somewhere between fact and fiction.  As far as resume formats go, it’s an absolute necessity.  However, you do need to consider that anyone can call your school and request your personal information without your consent.  If you’re currently in college, request a FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act) form from your school’s office.  Once they have it on file, only legitimate institutions and businesses can have access to your information.  Students under 18 will need their parents to sign the form.  For more information about FERPA forms, see the U.S. Department of Education’s website.

Fact or Fiction – Every job offer is legitimate.

The fact is online job sites have sped up the hiring process considerably, but that fact alone doesn’t necessarily make them legitimate.  Most businesses continue to move through the hiring process methodically, requiring one, two and sometimes three interviews before having potential employees complete a formal written application asking for personal information, work history and references.   If you feel rushed to supply the employer with your SSN or drivers’ license, then consider it a big warning to walk away.  Legitimate employers do not conduct background checks until the interview process is completed. Consider the following as signs or warnings that you may be looking at a fraudulent job offer.

The employer requests your bank account numbers

The position requires you to transfer money

The position requires you to open accounts with e-Bay, Pay Pal or Western Union.

Now some of this information may seem obvious, but the cybercriminal’s key to success is to rush you through the entire process before you’re even aware that you’ve been an identity theft victim. Before you give any personal identifying information, learn how to recognize the signs of identity theft.

Here are some other tips that may cause you to reconsider that too-fabulous-to-be-true, dream position:

You receive an email about a job offer but the email address does not contain the domain name of the company.

The fax or phone number does not have the same area code as the corporate phone number.

Before giving any information whether through email or the phone, play Magnum PI and conduct an online search of the company making the job offer or the person who has contacted you.  If you’re still not satisfied, contact or the State Attorney General’s office where the company is located.

Call the company’s HR department and verify that the person who’s contacted you on the company’s behalf is legitimate.

Fact or Fiction – A vague email job offer is often a valid offer.

Unfortunately, this is more fiction than fact for many job seekers.  The rule to remember here is, if a job offer emailed to you seems very “general” or has a “vague” job description; it may not be a job offer at all.  The email might contain a link that redirects you to yet another job site inviting you to post your resume, or it might be an email marketing campaign for an employment conference, seminar or class attempting to solicit money from you.  Either way, it pays to think twice before replying to these responses.

Some of the more common emails may include:

Invitation to post to another job site and the invitee doesn’t bother to tell you they get a small referral fee when you do.

Promises of a “dream job”, only after you paid their fee.

Claims they have a great opportunity for you, only the recruiter can’t seem to remember the company or the job title to this spectacular position.

Invitations to self-help seminars, promising a job only after you’ve purchased their seminar.

Some email job offers are actually valid.  In a recent World Privacy Forum job search study, the best job offers come within the first month of a resume being posted.  If responses seem scarce, you may want to take down your resume and start over.

Is Using Facebook a Risk to Your Identity?

Facebook has revolutionized the way individuals feel and communicate their ideas. Through status messages, photographs, links and other kinds of posts, individuals of all ages are now able to speak what’s on their mind and reach hundreds, if not thousands of people. Though this might be of some benefit, regrettably, this is a perfect way for criminals and identity thieves to gain access to private information and sensitive data. Identity theft on social media sites like Facebook is now uncontrolled and increasing annually

This information can be used by criminals to open credit lines in your name, because stealing of information occurs through such social-networking sites. They are able to commit these types of offenses: go on a shopping spree, take-out a mortgage, or purchase a car using credit cards in your name. I.D. theft can occur to you personally via your social networking websitea and induce issues for you months and possibly even years later on. Here are a few things you are able to do in order to counter these identity theft strikes.

Secure Your Private Information

FB frequently asks for your own personal information online including your name, address, phone, birth date, and in some rare cases, youSocial Security number and account numbers. Be skeptical of giving away that type of information on social media, since it’s possible that the information could be intercepted and used fraudulently. FB enables you to really set your security settings so you can manage who sees your profile.

Don’t Show Revealing Photographs

Additionally don’t actually put up a photograph of any sort of ID – student , driver’s licence and social security. There’s a single narrative of a man who, after seeing the grave of his own mother, posted a photograph of the tombstone on FB, providing would-be robbers the complete name of his own mother that’s frequently utilized as a protection measure by charge card businesses and lenders. This is really something you ought to never do- enabling felons to figure out your mom’s maiden name.

Use Strong Passwords

Passwords can be hard to recall particularly if you want to possess different passwords for each website that you simply go to. It’s significant to avoid ID Theft on social media websites to produce strong passwords. A strong password is a mix of specific characters, letters and figures, one that the thief might have a difficult time guessing. Among the passwords is really a mix of both lower and upper-class letters. Some specialists within the area advocate putting in numbers within the center of the password rather than in the start or in the end. Remember that in order to truly have a powerful password, the more it’s, the harder it’s for crooks to unearth. Lastly despite all these, use passwords which are simple to recall also – not just only your birth date or your daughter’s birth date, or an old address.

Review Your Credit File Often

It’s significant that you simply review your credit history regularly so that you simply will learn whether there are uncommon and funny activities in your credit file. You can track your credit file by ordering them in the three credit agencies (Equifax, Experian, and Trans Union). You may order these once yearly free of charge or better – subscribe to periodic reports or credit monitoring.

7 Celebrities Who Have Been Victims of Identity Theft

The problem with identity theft is that it doesn’t discriminate against one demographic or socioeconomic status. In many cases, the theft is not due to carelessness on the part of the victim. Celebrities have to deal with the annoyance of identity theft as well, and they have plenty of money to steal, so they are prime targets. Here’s a list of 7 well-known celebrities that have been victims of identity theft related crimes

steven speilbertSteven Spielberg was the victim of identity theft, however he had nothing stolen besides his privacy. In the 1990s, Spielberg had his personal information used to allow an inmate in a Tennessee prison view on Spielberg’s American Express credit card purchases. The man later claimed he did it to supply the celebrity’s information to a Hollywood studio. Apparently this genius thought he could make money by getting a movie made about his small time id theft caper.  Are people just that stupid?

liv tylerLiv Tyler had a bout with an identity thief in 2011. Her hairstylist used her credit card number to help herself to plenty of merchandise and services around town. When caught, it seems the stylist didn’t use Tyler’s card alone. She used Anne Hathaway, Penelope Cruz and Melanie Griffith’s card information as well. Tips and payment aren’t enough?


ricky gervaisRicky Gervais was on the receiving end of a fraud in 2009. Using an insider at the bank to obtain Gervais’ information, the group of thieves transferred 200,000 pounds from his bank account. The cash was to be used to secure gold bullion. While the scheme seems fairly clever, the identification they used was a passport, with a cutout photograph of Gervais. The pic was taken off the DVD box of The Office. They needed the identification to pick up the gold they had purchased.


paris hiltonParis Hilton had her name used in setting up a website. The site was dubbed Being registered as a trademark, she informed the thieves that she wanted payment for the use of her name. Later, her run-in with a teen in Minnesota resulted in her information being posted online. Apparently the teen had hacked in to Ms. Hilton’s phone.

A busboy was not using his head when he stole Ms. Oprah Winfrey’s social security number, birth dates of friends and relatives and even addresses of Oprah and 200 of the Richest People in America list published in Forbes. With the use of cell phones, a library computer and people imitating couriers, the thief snagged all of this info from credit protection services and reporting through Equifax.  If you’re going to steal someone’s identity (or bank info) you might as well swing for the fences and steal Oprah’s right?

Tiger WoodsKnown criminal, Anthony Lemar Taylor, picked a good one. He obtained Tiger Woods’ information after finding his information was not that secure. Taylor purchased $50,000 in merchandise. To top it all off, Taylor procured a fake license to drive, social security card and a military I.D, all in Tiger’s name. This bright guy even misspelled Tiger’s middle name wrong on the document’s but managed to still fill a storage unit to the hilt with stolen goods.


Image result for Will SmithWill Smith found several fake accounts were used to grab $33,000 under his real name, William C. Smith. The 2009 incident wasn’t the first time for the thief. He had been arrested before for stealing the former Atlanta Hawks basketball player, Steve Smith’s name. He was still on parole for the prior arrest. Some folks never learn.

So what’s the moral of the story here?  That anyone can be a victim of identity theft.  You, me, Kim Kardashian or the mail man.  Identity thieves don’t discriminate.  If you haven’t started making decisions to better protect your identity, then you are just a statistic waiting to happen.  Learn how to protect yourself on a daily basis and discover what credit monitoring can do as an proactive tool to help limit the damage should be ever be a victim of identity theft.

Preventing Senior Citizen Identity Theft

Internet fraud and identity thieves are as numerous today as they have ever been and are regularly taking advantage of the most cutting edge technology in order to steal law-abiding citizens’ money. Many of the people who get caught up in these schemes and thefts are senior citizens, and they are often even sought out and specifically targeted by experienced fraudsters. They exploit these seniors’ decline in mental quickness and their trust by befriending them and then later turning around to scam them through the use of false investment opportunities, sweepstakes, or by using numerous other tactics.

The best way to protect yourself and your loved ones is by understanding how these criminals operate and the methods they employ in order to get the job done. Luckily, there are many specific things to look out for that can indicate that someone is attempting to commit identity theft or fraud. If you are a friend or family member of a senior citizen, read over the following red flags to look out for in order to help protect them against fraud:

  • Large increases in debit or credit card usage.
  • Large withdrawals from savings, particularly if it’s an inactive account.
  • Overdraft fees or bounced checks.
  • New debit or credit cards that come in the mail.
  • Forged signatures.
  • Check numbers that are out of sync.
  • The senior is confused about their account balance.
  • Caregivers receiving too much pay.
  • Increases in monthly expenditures.
  • The senior speaks about a lottery or sweepstakes they’ve won.
  • The senior states they’ve provided personal info through email or over the phone.
  • While the above are some good tells that may well indicate scams or fraud being committed, it’s also important to understand the nature of the attacks themselves and take a proactive approach to guarding yourself or your loved ones against such attacks. Let’s take a closer look and see what types of scams are most common and what ways are best to guard against them.

Phishing Tactics

Phishing attacks are generally sent out in the form of an urgent message to a ton of different people at the same time. This is where the “fishing” term comes from, as even if the majority of the people who get these messages ignore them, anyone who does fall for the “lure” can net the scammer a huge profit. They’ll often be messages that will tell the receiver that there’s something wrong with their account and will ask for personal information in order to reconcile the issue. They’ll often come through email and can look very convincing. Many times they’ll use spoofed websites of banks, payment companies, or financial institutions. For example, your bank might have the website address “” but a phisher might use something that looks like “”

Emails aren’t the only methods, as there are also scams that revolve around phone calls or even text messages. In order to avoid phishing attempts, review the following steps:

  • Be critical of any email asking for personal financial information, particularly if it says it’s an urgent matter.
  • Avoid filling out forms through the email itself. Instead, always try to put your financial information into secure sites or over the phone after calling them directly.
  • Don’t follow any links that you receive through text message or email.
  • If you’re entering any private financial data, always make sure it’s a secure site.
  • Log into each of your online accounts at least once per month.
  • Review your credit card and bank statement regularly.
  • Keep your internet browser up to date.

Common Scams

Not all identities are stolen over the internet. Some are stolen in person. If you find yourself in a situation that seems almost too good to be true, it probably is. Let’s take a look at some common scams that senior citizens and other people regularly fall for:


The victims of these scams are told to be the middleman for a donation drive. They’ll be asked to deposit large checks into their account, keep a small cut for themselves for the trouble, and then forward the rest of the money into the fraudsters account. The money they’re “depositing” into their account doesn’t actually exist or sometimes even belongs to other victims.

Working from Home

A victim sees an advertisement promising them big bucks for working an easy job from the comfort of their own home. They’ll have checks deposited into their bank account and are told to wire 90% of it back to the fraudster and keep the remaining portion for themselves. Like with the above example, this money often doesn’t even exist, so the actual money that gets sent belongs to the victim.


The victim gets involved with an online boyfriend or girlfriend who tells them to deposit a check or money order into their account and then wire them the money. These checks are bogus so the boyfriend/girlfriend ends up getting money from the victim’s own pocket.

Protecting Yourself

While the above are common examples, there are endless scenarios that a fraudster can use to steal a senior citizen’s money. It’s best to proactively protect yourself from them rather than hoping to do damage control after your identity is already stolen. Let’s take a look at some of the best ways to go about doing this:

  • Regularly review your bank accounts and financial statements.
  • Sign up for security alerts through your mobile or on your email account.
  • Monitor your credit score to check it for unauthorized activity.
  • Keep private information private – use direct deposits and keep all financial records secure under lock and key.
  • If you are a victim of fraud, contact your financial services company immediately and notify them of the problem.

Senior identity theft is a very real thing that does affect countless individuals every single year. By taking a proactive approach in protecting yourself or someone you know, you will be able to minimize your risk. The most important thing is to be skeptical of strangers promising you money for little or no effort or of messages urging you to send them your personal information.