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Profile of an Identity Thief

by on November 7, 2007

More and more, people are becoming aware of what they need to do in order to protect themselves against identity theft. Unfortunately, this increased awareness has also caused many people to mistakenly believe that their biggest concern should only be staying protected while online.   The profile of an identity thief can’t always be described as typical.

While it’s certainly true that you need to utilize caution while on the Internet, it’s important to note that only half of identity theft cases involve the Internet or other forms of technology, such as credit card decoders. In fact, according to the Center for Identity Management and Information Protection (CIMIP), methods that do not utilize technology in any way are still responsible for at least half of these cases.

Obviously, you need to be a smart consumer and you need to exercise caution while online. Nonetheless, this doesn’t mean that you can ignore the old fashioned methods of stealing credit card information. In fact, some methods are actually quite simple and can happen right under your nose without you even realizing. Redirecting your mail by simply filling out a change of address form with the post office, for example, can be an effective method of swiping your identity. So if you suddenly stop receiving mail, be sure to check into this possibility right away.

Your mail is a particularly sensitive area that can leave you particularly vulnerable to an identity thief. In addition to redirecting your mail, a thief can also simply go through the mail in your mailbox and cherry pick the mail that contains sensitive financial information. Or, the thief can go through your discarded mail and look for similar pieces of mail. In fact, experts say that 20% of cases of identity theft that did not involve technology were achieved by changing mailing addresses or “dumpster diving”.

There are some other interesting statistics that have been recently released about identity thieves as well. For example, they tend to be on the younger side, with 42.5% of cases involving offenders between the ages of 25 and 34. 18.5% were between the ages of 18 and 24, while only 6% were over 50. In addition, approximately 2/3 of offenders were male.

In support of the PCI standards that the credit card industry is trying to support, research has also found that approximately 50% of identity theft cases involved a business breach as the method of obtaining the stolen information. In other words, the thief used a financial industry, service company, retail business, or a corporation in one way or another in order to acquire the sensitive information. Accessing the business’s database was responsible for one third of all cases.

Of course, you can’t always trust your friends or family members, either. The research also found that 16% of the cases involved one of these trusted individuals, who ended up being the thief. So, these statistics only go to prove that you have to continually be aware of your financial security – whether on the Internet or enjoying a day with a friend.

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