You are sitting comfortably watching TV at home when there is a knock at the door. You respond to find a police officer with an arrest warrant for money laundering.

Despite your protests and obvious innocence, there is a problem: your fingerprints are all over the place. How can this be?

Welcome to the world of identity theft, the inevitable consequence of identity theft.

What is identity fraud?

Identity theft (commonly known as identity fraud) occurs when a stolen identity is used to commit fraud. In most cases, identity fraud is a financial crime; takes advantage of the economic situation of the victim to take out loans and other lines of credit in her name.

Identity fraud is also sometimes based on identity theft. Thanks to the massive identity theft industry that has grown on the Internet, identity theft is rare these days. Thanks to the number of ways credit can be applied online, it's largely unnecessary.

Identity fraud is often accompanied by money laundering. For example, goods can be paid for with the victim's money, delivered to an address managed by the thief, and then resold.

How they steal your identity

Before identity fraud can be committed, identity theft must first occur. But how do these criminals get your data?

(Image credit: wk1003mike/Shutterstock)

Impersonation

Perhaps the main reason behind identity theft is the dual attack of phishing and phishing websites.

The game is simple: you receive an email, SMS or instant message, along with a link that you are supposed to click on. So it can be a bank, a credit card or a dating site in the case of instant messaging.

Following the link takes you to a real copy (a parody) of the associated website. You will be asked to sign in or confirm some details. These are registered by scammers and used to steal your identity.

This scam can also be carried out over the phone. For example, an unsolicited caller pretends to be from her bank and asks her to confirm her login details; these are then used to carry out identity fraud. The scammer may even record the call to play back on an automated connection service for access.

purse snatching

The contents of your purse, purse, or wallet can make life easier for an identity thief. Credit cards, debit cards, your phone, and your social security card can give you what an identity thief is looking for.

To stay safe, carry only the cards you need. Carry your bag securely on your body and keep cards, wallets, purses and everything else out of sight and out of reach. Only withdraw cards when paying for goods.

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When paying for these goods, be sure to check the proximity of those around you. If a PIN is required at the cash register or at an ATM, anyone who is attentive can spot the code. Then all it takes is for your card to be stolen and for the identity thief to use the PIN.

Cover your PIN as you enter it to keep the code secret.

Theft of physical documents and “dumpster diving”

You need to shred old bank statements and letters from your bank or card company. Any personal identification documents must also be shredded. The reason? All it takes is for someone to rummage through your trash cans and find valid old documents for your identity to be stolen.

Known as "dumpster diving," this is a proven method of successful identity theft. The best solution is to shred your old documents, IDs and passports.

The alternative is to simply break into your home and steal important documents. Keep your bank statements, passports, and other identification under lock and key to combat this.

Social media images

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Oversharing on social media

Have you ever shared too much on Facebook? Unfortunately, the answer is probably "yes". Whether it's photos of outings, where you live, when you're at work, on vacation... it's oversharing. And with the wrong privacy settings, anyone can learn everything there is to know about you.

Worse yet, by looking at their activity on Facebook, a daily pattern emerges. Criminals could use it to determine when to visit your home and steal those vital documents you haven't locked up yet.

Although oversharing on Facebook is the main culprit, any social network that encourages you to share all aspects of your life should be used less.

Register your credit card number online

If you shop online at stores like Amazon, they will likely save your credit card details to your account. This saves time at the checkout, helping to reduce time spent shopping. It also prevents you from finding your wallet, pulling out the card, and then entering the 16-digit number, your name, and the CVV2 code on the back.

But registering your credit card online can be risky. It is enough that the online store is hacked. Also, if your details are not stored in encrypted form, your credit card details will be recovered. With these, credit card fraud or complete identity fraud can occur.

Take Identity Theft Seriously

Your life is literally out of your hands if you don't take the necessary steps to keep your accounts safe. But you don't have to be afraid of that. Treat digital security as you would the security of your home or car. Lock the doors and windows, install an immobilizer and maybe an alarm.

Universal vigilance is required to avoid the tricks and traps of thieves. Fortunately, you can follow many of the same steps. For example, lock your accounts with two-factor authentication to prevent unauthorized access. Set up text or email alerts to let you know when spending gets out of control. And sign up for credit monitoring services to spot any new accounts created in your name.

The bottom line is to take identity theft seriously, otherwise identity fraud will undoubtedly ensue.

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