News & Resources

Criminals need little information to steal identities

Jan 11, 2011 Brian Bradley

One of the most common ways that criminals are able to target the identity of employees and consumers is by gaining access to their social security numbers. According to many identity theft experts, criminals need little more than access to a person's social security number and name when attempting to create a fake credit card account. Those who steal the identities of others will often open the account, charge as much as they can and leave the real person holding the debt. Companies must take necessary precautions to protect workers by carefully disposing of documents. "Dumpster diving and mail theft are popular for small-scale identity thieves, the FTC says, with discarded documents and pre-approved credit offers sometimes enough to get a thief started with some credit card purchases," Cythya Porter writes for the Winona Post. "On a slightly broader scale, skimming credit card numbers has been reported, a crime perpetrated by attaching a small device to a credit card machine that collects and stores customer numbers when they pay." The Department of Homeland Security recently took action against identity thieves. The Minnesota Tribune reports that agents from the DHS arrested two students for their involvement in an international online fraud ring.