How to get your identity stolen
You’ve read hundreds of articles about how to avoid identity theft, but if you actually want to lose your identity then just follow these ten simple steps:
- Use your pet’s or child’s name as your email password
Fluffy1234. Who would ever think of that? Identity thieves are using sophisticated technology to crack your passwords and steal your information. Using your dog’s name and a common number sequence will make it so easy that these identity thieves won’t even need a computer to figure it out.
- Over-share with your neighbor or a friendly stranger
Always use the same personal identification number (PIN) or code for all your accounts, credit and debit cards. Remember when you had your neighbors watch your house and you gave them your garage code? Well now they also have your PIN for all your accounts. And what about that friendly stranger who offers to sell you a tropical vacation for pennies on the dollar? Once you give them your name, address and payment information, your identity could be as good as gone!
- Throw away personal documents without shredding
Throw away receipts, old bill statements and credit card applications without shredding them. A more low-tech identity thief will just dig through your dumpster and use the information in receipts and bills to access your personal information. Then he will sign up for a credit card in your name with the application you threw away the other day. He’ll be sitting on a beach sipping a frozen drink after he spent all your money on that tropical vacation we mentioned while you spend months recovering your lost finances and clearing up your credit report.
- Make yourself an easy target for pickpockets
Don’t pay attention to your surroundings in a crowd. Leave your fanny pack unzipped so anyone can reach right in and grab your wallet. This saves an identity thief from the trouble of looking for your information. He can just use your ID and credit or debit cards.
- Don’t password protect any personal devices
Don’t password protect any of your personal devices (laptops, tablets, smartphones, etc.) and leave them out where anyone can access them. Why waste the time pushing buttons to unlock your smart phone when you could be taking a picture of your dinner!
- Respond to suspicious emails
Even if it seems suspicious, respond to all emails asking for your personal information. Click on suspicious links too! This will route you to a website or file download that will make it really easy for you to share all of your online activity with the identity thief – user names, passwords, card numbers, you name it!
- Respond to suspicious requests on social media
Easily hacked passwords on your social media sites allow identity thieves to pose as you and try to con your friends out of their personal information and even their money. Oh, and your ex really is stuck in London without a passport or money! Wire that $5,000 right away!
- Transfer money on an unsecure website or via email
Speaking of sending money, be sure you give out your bank account info via email because it’s definitely a safe way to shop online. Throw in your Social Security number and your mother’s maiden name while you’re at it.
- Be careless with logins and personal information in public
Openly log in to your personal accounts while you’re on a laptop or phone in a public setting. Balance your checkbook in a coffee shop and be sure you move out of the way so the identity thief can clearly read your account number.
- Never review your bank account statements
They say ignorance is bliss. It’s true. If you never look at your account statements, you’ll never know if someone has your account information and is spending all your money. You’ll also never know when your spouse dropped a couple hundred dollars on a shopping spree!
Of course, we are joking and having a little fun with this post. At UMB we take privacy and security very seriously, especially when it comes to our customers. You might think identity theft can’t happen to you, but it is still very common and a few simple things can keep you protected. Just do the exact opposite of everything on this list. Or, take a look at our website to learn more tips and tricks to protect your information and your identity.
Bank deposit products provided by UMB Bank n.a., Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender
Ms. Matheys serves as vice president and information security and privacy officer, providing oversight of UMB’s formal information security and privacy programs. She joined UMB in 2010. She attended Kansas State University with a focus on management information systems and is a Certified Information Security Manager (CISM) as well as Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA).