Creative Identity Theft: It's on the Rise

It's amazing what some people will do to steal from you. Here are a few of the more creative identity theft trends you need to be aware of

While the same old methods of ID theft keep occurring over and over again -- because, sadly, they work like gangbusters -- we've seen some surprisingly creative identity theft methods become more prominent recently.

While ID thieves can be dumb, they're not always. Sometimes they're pretty darn smart. We don't say that because we admire them, but because it's critical for you to realize that a lack of ethics doesn't necessarily equal a lack of brains. You have to remain very, very careful, even in situations when you shouldn't have to.

The price of good credit is, after all, eternal vigilance. I think one of the Founding Fathers said that.

Endless Diversity

Recently, we made you aware of the recent plague of identity theft on Facebook, and you can rest assured that it's spread to any other social media site you can think of since, from Zing to LinkedIn to Bubba's BBQ Network. This is pedestrian compared to some recent ID theft issues.

For instance: You may not be aware that most photocopiers, scanners, fax machines, and similar devices made in the past decade contain hard drives that can store images of anything you pass through them. The clever thief can access that drive to pull your identity information with relative ease.

Your only real fix here is to never, ever copy your personal information on a machine you don't have total control over.

Matters of Life...

If you become pregnant, be very, very careful about who your friends are. Recently, one woman went to great lengths to pretend to be a new mom, then befriended an actual pregnant women, stole her information, obtained the birth certificates of her children... and used them to acquire government benefits.

If you have kids, it's a good idea to order credit reports on each of them every few years, to be sure that no one has tried this--or any other form of ID theft that could leave your kids' credit (or yours) ruined sometime in the future.

...and Death

People aren't even safe from identity theft after death. Recently, enterprising thieves have been grabbing personal information from places like the online Social Security Death Index, and opening new credit card accounts to abuse -- and have even been raiding existing ones.

Usually, the first thing anyone knows about this is when bill collectors start harassing the family of the deceased.

Now, you usually aren't liable for a deceased person's bills anyway, although some collectors may try to convince you otherwise. But it's still a nuisance. The best fix is to notify the credit reporting agencies immediately if a relative passes away, so you don't fall prey to some ghoul's creative identity theft.

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