Identity Theft Warning Signs
- Unusual activity on your credit report
- Missing bills and statements
- Emails or texts asking for sensitive information
- Calls from creditors about accounts you never opened or loans you never applied for
Thousands of men and women meet online every day and while online dating has expanded the dating universe like never before; a few bad guys fly under the radar and attempt to scam innocent people. While scams asking for money are more common in online dating, it is important to be aware of other equally important fraudulent practices such as identity theft.
To put it simply, when someone steals or attempts to steal your identity it is known as identity theft. Identity thieves use the victim's personal information and details to fraudulently pose as the victim, usually for financial benefits.
The identity thief uses the victim's identity for personal gain and this leads to identity fraud. They make use of personal information such as bank account details, social security or tax file numbers, credit card details or any other financial account information for their personal benefit. They can get hold of this information through various online and offline methods.
In the offline world, some identity thieves resort to literally stealing your information.
- Phishing – They send emails or pop-up messages, pretending to be your financial institution to get you to reveal your personal details.
- Pretending – Once they obtain your personal email address or phone number, again they pretend to be your financial institution to get a hold of your information.
- Changing Your Address – If they know your home address, they can change the address and divert your bills and bank statements to a different address.
- Stealing – They steal wallets, credit cards, mail from mail boxes, pre-approved credit offers etc. At the corporate level, they even target companies and steal personnel information from their databases.
- Dumpster Diving – They rummage through the rubbish to look for identifying information or bills they can use.
Don't become a victim of identity fraud; take these steps to prevent it from happening to you while you're dating online.
- Do not post or share any personal information and details with anyone, no matter how safe you think it might be. Bank account details, a credit card number or a social security or tax file number is often all a thief needs for fraud.
- If you are talking to someone on the phone, get to know them before you give them your cell phone number. Identity thieves have been known to use home and work phone numbers in reverse phone directories to reveal addresses etc so it’s probably best you get to know someone a little before you share your contact details with them.
- Keep a log of your chat or IM sessions wherever possible, just in case you need it in the future.
- Do not entertain any requests to cash a cashiers check as these checks are usually fake and as a victim you not only lose your money but could also reveal sensitive personal information to the scammer.
- Monitor your credit reports regularly to ensure there has been no unusual activity on your account. You can also freeze your report so credit issuers can only access your report when you give them permission to do so.
- If you receive emails, text messages or phone calls asking you for sensitive information, make sure you double check with the bank or financial institution as they will usually not ask for sensitive information over the phone.
- Use a locked mail box so your mail cannot be stolen and make sure you shred paper before you throw it in the garbage.
Sensitive information in the hands of a thief can lead to several kinds of identity fraud – credit card, bank and finance, government documents (getting a driver's license in the victim's name; using social security number), getting a job pretending to be the victim, renting services etc. Obviously an imposter is bad news and if you think you are a victim of identity theft/ fraud, you must get help immediately.
- File a police report.
- Immediately notify creditors.
- Dispute unauthorized transactions and doing so will help restore your name and credit report.
- Set up a fraud alert on your credit report to prevent the thief from opening further accounts
- Close the accounts that have been tampered with
In addition, take a look at the links below for detailed information about identity theft and fraud.
- US Info - Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act 2003 -
- UK Info – Personal data protected by Data Protection 1998
Protection against fraud by Fraud Act 2006
- Canada Info – Section 403 of the Criminal Code of Canada discusses fraud. Each province and territory also has its own privacy law for use and storage of personal data.
- Australia Info – At the federal level, the Criminal Code Amendment (Theft, Fraud, Bribery & Related Offences) Act 2000 discusses fraud. Each individual state and territory also has its own privacy laws.