“Once a thief is in possession of a victim’s identity, they can obtain bank loans,cell phone contracts, mortgages, you name it, they’ll buy it. And ,all of this activity is attributed to the unknowing victim,” says Detective Bill Allen of the EPS Economic Crimes Unit.
ID thieves will stop at nothing to obtain tidbits of identity-type information. Sometimes, it’s as easy as stealing someone’s wallet from a vehicle.
‘Hiding’ your purse or wallet under the seat is not a good idea
Detective Allen explains, “People quite often leave their wallet or purse in their vehicle. They walk away, thinking their belongings are secure in a locked vehicle. They probably even went to the effort of hiding their wallet or purse beneath the seat, or in the trunk.
While we recommend that you always lock your vehicle, determined thieves have been known to smash vehicle windows to get in. And, one of the first places they’ll look is under the seats to see what may have been hidden there.”
Thieves will also wade through residential garbage cans, as well as garbage bins located outside of businesses in search of what they think of as hidden gems –scraps of discarded paper containing personal information. Tech-savvy thieves break into e-mail accounts and social media sites. They also like to steal letters and documents from home mailboxes.
Victims unaware their ID has been stolen
Most victims are unaware that their personal information has been stolen until something bad happens. For instance, a victim goes to charge something to their credit card, and the transaction is refused. Or, they may get stopped in a routine traffic check, where police run their name through the system, and it is discovered that there are warrants out in their name.
Reduce your risk of becoming a victim
Detective Allen shared some tips on how to protect your identity:
· Never carry more credit cards than is absolutely necessary, and cancel all credit cards that you no longer use
· Change your passwords and PINs frequently, and always cover one hand with the other when entering a PIN
· Never carry your Social Insurance Number or your birth certificate
Your identity is a valuable possession .. . cherish it and protect it!