Every Officer Needs to Know About Identity Crime
A wide range of behaviors as well as many crimes can put a person’s identifying information at risk. Law enforcement officers at all levels should be informed about identity crime, so that they can be on the lookout for signs that such activity may be a factor in another situation or investigation. Types of activities often used in identity crimes include:
- Stealing information from businesses and organizations that store victims’ personal and financial information in their files, such as retailers, banks, hospitals and universities. This activity is commonly known as committing “data breaches.”
- Stealing information from transactions such as retail purchases, school enrollments, doctor visits, hospital admissions, insurance applications, etc.
- Going through trash and looking for straight cut or un-shredded papers. This activity is commonly known as “dumpster-diving.”
- Stealing mail or wallets.
- Gaining access to vital documents such as birth/death certificates, driver’s licenses or Social Security cards through accessing employer records.
- Listening to public conversations.
- Tricking victims into giving information over the telephone or by e-mail.
- Buying the information either on the Internet or from someone who may have stolen it.
- Getting it from the victim's computer, especially one that lacks firewalls.
- Obtaining it from a friend, relative, or someone who works with the victim and has access to the victim's information.
- Using skimming devices designed to get information from the magnetic strip on credit cards.
- Completing a change of address form with the U.S. Postal Service to divert mail to another location.