4 Ways Identity Thieves Acquire Your Personal Information

In What Is Identity Theft?, I started discussing the basics of identity theft. I have shared examples on how data breaches affect individuals, and how cybercriminals use these personal information. So, this time, I will elaborate more on the different ways identity thieves get a hold of your personal data.


  • The most method would be phishing, and phishing happens when cybercriminals send emails to trick you. These emails mimic real emails and newsletters banks and other financial entities. If you are not a keen observer, you would think these phishing emails are legit. The links in these fraudulent emails could have some malware – or malicious software – attached to it. Then, this software could acquire information from your computer and send it to the perpetrators. Cybercriminals uses the personal information of other people to commit gain financial benefits or to commit a heinous crime. So, be wary of open emails from people you do not know. Never click links or download attachments.


  • Card skimming occurs when card readers are placed at cash counters. Before you withdraw money from an automated teller machine at a convenience store, coffee shop, gas station, be sure the machine are free from any other device. Once card readers access your ATM card, this device will then get the data stored in the magnetic strip of these cards.
  • If it is not a card reader, cybercriminals also install a small camera pointing at the keys. Therefore, every time someone withdraws from that machine, criminals would know the ATM pins. With the information they acquire from you, whether it is your credit or debit card number, criminals can easily make purchases or withdraw cash in your behalf.

Dumpster diving

  • Often times, people think identity thieves are computer hackers. Well, not all the time. Identity thieves get your information through rummaging your mail. By stealing your mail from the trash, they can piece together your personal information.
  • Aside from your name and address written on the envelope, they could also find out other personal details like bank account number, credit card number, health insurance card, and other cards that may be of use.
  • Identity thieves can even create a new identity by stealing your Social Security number. Then, pretend to be you in order to pass a background check. So, it is best to shred documents and other mail before throwing them out.
  • Aside from that, it is recommended to cut pre-approved cards into pieces if you have no plans of using them. Because if you don’t shred them, other people might be tempted to activate and use it for their personal gains.


  • Tech-savvy criminals may employ various techniques to steal your information. One is through the installation of a malicious software. A malware, as it is commonly known, could allow other people to access the information stored in your device.
  • Malicious software could include as of these: viruses, spyware, and keyloggers. Know more about preventive tips on What You Can Do to Avoid Mobile Security Threats?


Next? 4 Other Ways Identity Thieves Acquire Your Personal Information

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