Few crimes in today’s world have resulted in higher levels of anxiety more quickly than the sudden and immense onslaught of identity theft. It is not at all unusual to read about it in local newspapers, hear about it on the nightly news, or learn about another case on social media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter. People are constantly in fear that they will become the next victim of identity theft. The fear is very real among most and should be; according to studies, all it takes is one simple piece of personal information and a criminal has the ability to wreak havoc on a person’s personal life, professional life, and financial affairs. We here at Somerville National Bank take every step possible and make every effort possible to inform our customers and our community of the dangers of identity theft. In this series, you will learn how to successfully protect yourself from being the next victim of identity theft. Be sure to bookmark us and follow us for the next several weeks as we move through this series.

What is Identity Theft?
Before initiating the process of instructing you of the many ways that you may prevent yourself from becoming a victim of identity theft, it is important that you first know and understand what identity theft is and how it affects you. This form of theft is very serious. Not only does it disrupt your financial life, it also negatively impacts your credit history and the reputation that you have worked so hard to build. Resolving a case of identity theft may prove to be exceptionally difficult. It often takes a lot of time and a lot of money. Identity theft occurs when a criminal takes your personal information and then uses it, without first obtaining your permission.

Ways Your Personal Information May be Accessed by Thieves
Now that you understand what identity theft is, it is time to review a few different methods that thieves may access your personal information. You should ensure that you are aware of the various techniques utilized by identity thieves so that you may better protect yourself. The following outlines the most common methods used by identity theft criminals:

  • Many will engage in an act called “dumpster diving”. This is where they will actually dig and sort through garbage in various locations in an effort to discover cancelled checks, bank statements, credit card statements, offers for credit cards, and loan offers.
  • Many will actually steal mail from the mailboxes located in residential areas. It is in hopes of obtaining personal information in outgoing bills.
  • Many identity thieves may unlawfully enter your home and/or vehicle in order to uncover and obtain personal information such as social security cards, birth certificates, tax returns, phone numbers, and checks.
  • Many may work in businesses, doctor offices, and government offices that have your information on file. They actually steal it while working.
  • Many may pretend to be a business, a job, a credit card company, an apartment complex, and other types of businesses in order to obtain personal information from you.

We thank you for taking the time to read part one of our series, “Successfully Protecting Yourself from Identity Theft”. In the first installment of this series, you have learned what identity theft is and how your personal information is commonly obtained by criminals. Be sure to come back next week for part two.