Hey, you! Yeah, I’m talking to you! The guy sitting there in Starbucks checking his bank balance on his iPad. Or the nice old lady waiting for her social security check to be delivered to her mailbox. Or even the family who doesn’t shred their junk mail before tossing it out. I’m going to let you in on a little secret – I’m going to steal your identity and then steal a lot of your money, and there are so many ways I can do it you’d be amazed. In fact, I and my fellow identity theft friends steal about a gazillion dollars each year, and it’s getting easier – not harder – thanks to technology. I’m feeling generous today so I’m going to share my secrets with you (and chances are you still won’t protect yourself.) Game on!

I can steal your identity the old fashioned way by simply burglarizing your documents. I see opportunities everywhere - I can slip an arm through a car window when you leave it down on a hot day, check to see if your doors are unlocked, sneak into your house, or even grab your computer when you go to the bathroom at Starbucks. Don’t get next to me on a crowded bus or street corner, because I’ll pickpocket your wallet without you feeling a thing!

Your employer has so much of your data and is SO careless with it. I can easily steal files, flash drives, and other records to get your social security number, address, work history, medical information, other valuable data. I don’t have to break in to do this – I can hack into your employer’s electronic files or even bribe the disgruntled janitor to let me in.

One of my favorite tactics is to submit a change of address form with the post office. I can do this easily and anonymously by filling out a simple card. After that, all of your mail will be sent to MY new address, usually a P.O. Box under a false name so I won’t get busted if you call the police.

For my technically savvy identity theft friends, phishing scams are popular. They send you spam emails or set up pop up messages to appear as you browse the web, all asking for your personal information or logins and passwords.

You may not realize it, but social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, etc. are goldmines for us identity thieves. By taking bits and pieces of your personal information we can assemble a data profile that includes just about everything but your social security number. You also aren’t aware that your photos tell so much about your life (car license plate numbers, address on your home, 7 when you’re out of town and where, etc.) When all else fails, you’d be shocked what public records reveal online!

Do you realize how easy it is for me to make my own credit card? I can press a duplicate in minutes with special foils and laminators, burning your name and card number onto blank cards that I buy online.

No matter how smart you think your bank is, we’re smarter – always one step ahead. We install plastic devices to regular ATM machines that allow us to register all of your bank information once you insert your card, called skimmers. Sometimes we even put up a completely fake ATM machine for a few days before moving it to the next location before the heat is on.

I have to thank you from the bottom of my heart for login in to your bank or credit card’s site to check your balance, or even checking your email with a public Wi-Fi connection. It’s so easy to hack in and see exactly what you’re doing!

Did you know? More than 8 million people fall victim to identity theft in the U.S. each year. Consumers spend hundreds of millions of hours trying to resolve the problem, stop the fraud, and clear up their credit reports.