6 Ways Your Identity Can Be Stolen

What is the key cause of identity theft and fraud? Personal irresponsibility. That's the word from Accenture's global security practice.

That means the best way to prevent your identity from being stolen is to take active responsibility to protect it. "There's a lot of confusion out there--a lot of people don't think there's a problem," Accenture senior executive Robert Dyson told The Associated Press. "There's still the kind of head-in-the-sand situation: 'My identity hasn't been stolen. I don't know anybody who's had their identity stolen. So it must not be happening.'"

But it is! And here are six of the most common ways thieves steal your good name and all that goes with it, according to Dr. Eric Hartwell, EzineArticles.com expert author:

1. Camera Phones
This may be the newest way to steal someone's personal data, and it's so nefarious, the victim is pretty much clueless it ever happened. While you're standing at the ATM, someone behind you records everything you do--including you typing in your PIN--by taking a video with his camera phone.

2. Mailboxes
Who needs to go Dumpster diving for discarded personal information soaked with leftover eggs, coffee grinds and kitty litter when it's waiting all nice and tidy in your mailbox? You regularly use your mailbox to receive and send documents that contain all your personal information, including your name, address, credit card numbers and bank account details. It's easy to steal your incoming or outgoing mail.

3. Telemarketing
Nefarious criminals just pick up the phone and call innocent victims, pretending to sell you something and hoping they can convince you to give them your credit card information. Some will even try to extract from you your name, date of birth, mother's maiden name, bank account details, passwords and PIN numbers. Others can be quite intimidating, making you think you're in trouble with the law and trying to scare you into divulging the information.

4. Pick-Pockets
This is as old as the hills, but instead of just trying to steal your cash, identity thieves want to take your personal data, something of far greater value than a few $20 bills. Clean out your wallet and remove anything that might be useful to a criminal.

5. Your Trash
It may be easier to just toss your old bank account and credit card statements in the trash, but don't do it. Shred them before throwing them out. Your trash is a real treasure to a criminal.

6. Internet Phishing Schemes
If you're ever asked online for your personal information, chances are it's a phishing scam. No reputable company asks for such details in this way. Here's a hint: If the site or e-mail refers to you as "Dear Customer" instead of by your name, it's a scam. Hit the delete button.

Protect your computer: The single best step to help protect your computer and identity is to use up-to-date PC security software, such as McAfee Internet Security Suite, which provides comprehensive, multi-layered computer security against inbound and outbound Internet threats. It helps protect you from viruses, spyware, hackers, unwanted e-mails, phishing scams and identity theft. In addition to anti-virus, anti-spam and anti-spyware protection, the McAfee Internet Security Suite offers firewall protection, identity threat prevention, parental controls and more. For information on the McAfee Internet Security Suite, click here.

--From the Editors at Netscape

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