What is identity theft?

Identity theft is when someone steals your personal information, pretending to be you to commit fraud or gain other financial benefits.

Your personal information could include your name, address, email address, username and passwords, Social Security number, driver’s license, or account number. An identity thief may use that information to apply for credit, file taxes or get medical services. It can damage your credit status, costing you time and money to fix it.

How does it happen?

Your personal information can be accessed in various ways:

  • Phishing. Fraudulent emails or texts that may look legitimate contain links used to download malicious software or malware.
  • Skimming. Criminals replace card readers with counterfeit devices at cash counters and other point-of-sale systems such as an ATM. The skimmer captures the data from the magnetic strip of credit and debit cards to gain access to your personal identification number (PIN) and more.
  • Wi-Fi hacking. Using an unsecure connection, hackers can inject malware to gain access to your data. Criminals create a fake hotspot with a name that sounds like a real network.
  • Dumpster diving. Thieves can steal your mail to get details about your identity. From pre-approved credit card offers to tax-related documents, they could take the information to create a new identity.
  • Phone scams. Fraudsters may call you, claiming to be from a bank or the IRS.
  • Data breaches. A data breach puts millions of people’s personal information at risk. In this case, criminals could sell that information on the dark web.
  • Malware. Identity thieves use techniques to install malicious software on a device. Malware types include viruses, spyware, trojans, and keyloggers.
  • Mail theft. Criminals may go through your mail to find credit card statements, tax forms or any other mail pieces that contains any personal information.
  • Mobile phones. If a thief steals and unlocks your phone, they could view information in your apps, emails, text messages, notes and more.
  • Child ID theft. Thieves can use a child’s Social Security number to open accounts, apply for benefits or loans, or to get an apartment. The person might not know about the fraud until they apply for loans or credit as an adult.

What happens to my information?

Identity thieves can use your personal information to steal money or benefits, to sell it on the dark web, or to impersonate you.

What are the signs?

Some signs of identity theft include:

  • Unauthorized bank transactions or withdrawals.
  • Medical bills for services you did not receive.
  • Unfamiliar charges on your credit card statement.
  • Turned down for a loan.

How do I protect myself?

There are many ways you can protect yourself against identity theft:

  • For the best protection, create a long password or passphrase that is difficult to guess but easy for you to remember.
  • Enable two-factor authentication.
  • Never pass out your personal information.
  • Shred any documents that contain sensitive information.
  • Choose paperless billing if it is available.
  • Use websites that are secure. The URL should begin with “HTTPS.”
  • Review your financial accounts and credit report often.
  • Don’t click links, open attachments, or respond to emails from untrusted sources.
  • Set up alerts on your banking and credit card accounts.

How can we help?

For more information on identity theft, visit our identity theft section (link: https://www.adirondackbank.com/Identity-Theft.aspx) on our website. We break down more tips and tricks to protect your identity and what to do if you fall victim.

The information is this article was obtained from various sources not associated with Adirondack Bank. While we believe it to be reliable and accurate, we do not warrant the accuracy or reliability of the information. Adirondack Bank is not responsible for, and does not endorse or approve, either implicitly or explicitly, the information provided or the content of any third-party sites that might be hyperlinked from this page. The information is not intended to replace manuals, instructions or information provided by a manufacturer or the advice of a qualified professional, or to affect coverage under any applicable insurance policy. These suggestions are not a complete list of every loss control measure. Adirondack Bank makes no guarantees of results from use of this information.

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