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Defenders Of The Accused
Matthew Radefeld & Dan Juengel

Common methods of identity theft

| Jun 4, 2019 | Uncategorized |

Increased use of technology has resulted in a higher incidence of identity theft. The number of data breaches, record exposures, credit card exposures and Social Security exposures steadily increases. Identity fraud is often the outcome of these personal information breaches. 

But what does identity theft look like? How do fraudsters obtain these private details? Here are some of the most common methods of committing this type of white-collar crime.

Skimming devices

Skimmers are small card-reading devices that perpetrators may install over payment systems at gas stations, checkout registers and ATMs. When someone swipes a credit or debit card, the skimmer steals and stores this information. The thieves then use this data to create counterfeit cards or make fraudulent purchases. 


The internet is a prevalent tool for those who want to commit identity theft. A phisher is someone who creates and sends emails that appear legitimate. Phishers commonly pose as banks or popular websites. When recipients click on the links in these emails, they unknowingly install malware onto their devices, which exposes confidential information. 


Hacking is another way to use the virtual world to steal identities. Hackers are criminals who install malicious software on websites and computer networks to steal personal information. Some hackers can obtain complete access and control of computers. 

Impersonation via phone or email

Sometimes, identity thieves simply contact a bank through a phone call or email. They make contact multiple times trying to receive different pieces of information about bank customers they wish to impersonate. Once they gain enough details, they can successfully impersonate the bank customers and receive access to accounts.

Dumpster diving

Fraudsters do not need to rely on sophistication to obtain sensitive information about individuals. Some identity thieves simply search through trash cans or mailboxes for documents containing personal details. These documents include bank statements, pay stubs and tax return copies.

Actions can be misinterpreted as fraudulent, leading to criminal charges. It is important to enlist the help of experienced criminal defense attorneys whenever one faces criminal charges.