Techniques for Obtaining and Exploiting Personal Information for Identity Theft
Identity theft is a form of stealing someone’s identity in which someone pretends to be someone else by assuming that person’s identity, typically in order to access resources or obtain credit and other benefits in that person’s name. The victim of identity theft (here meaning the person whose identity has been assumed by the identity thief) can suffer adverse consequences if they are held accountable for the perpetrator’s actions.
Identity theft occurs when someone uses your personally identifying information, like your name, Social Security number, or credit card number, without your permission, to commit fraud or other crimes.
Identity thieves typically obtain and exploit personally identifiable information about individuals, or various credentials they use to authenticate themselves, in order to impersonate them. Examples include:
1. Rummaging through rubbish for personal information (dumpster diving).
2. Retrieving personal data from redundant IT equipment and storage media including PCs, servers, PDAs, mobile phones, USB memory sticks and hard drives that have been disposed of carelessly at public dump sites, given away or sold on without having been properly sanitized.
3. Using public records about individual citizens, published in official registers such as electoral rolls.
4. Stealing bank or credit cards, identification cards, passports, authentication tokens — typically by pickpocketing, housebreaking or mail theft.
5. Common-knowledge questioning schemes that offer account verification and compromise: “What’s your mother’s maiden name?”, “what was your first car model?”, or “What was your first pet’s name?”, etc.
6. Skimming information from bank or credit cards using compromised or hand-held card readers, and creating clone cards.
7. Using ‘contact-less’ credit card readers to acquire data wirelessly from RFID-enabled passports.
8. Observing users typing their login credentials, credit/calling card numbers etc. into IT equipment located in public places (shoulder surfing).
9. Stealing personal information from computers using breaches in browser security or malware such as Trojan horse keystroke logging programs or other forms of spyware.
10. Hacking computer networks, systems and databases to obtain personal data, often in large quantities.
11. Exploiting breaches that result in the publication or more limited disclosure of personal information such as names, addresses, Social Security number or credit card numbers.
12. Advertising bogus job offers in order to accumulate resumes and applications typically disclosing applicants’ names, home and email addresses, telephone numbers and sometimes their banking details.
13. Exploiting insider access and abusing the rights of privileged IT users to access personal data on their employers’ systems.
14. Infiltrating organizations that store and process large amounts or particularly valuable personal information.
15. Impersonating trusted organizations in emails, SMS text messages, phone calls or other forms of communication in order to dupe victims into disclosing their personal information or login credentials, typically on a fake corporate website or data collection form (phishing).
16. Brute-force attacking weak passwords and using inspired guesswork to compromise weak password reset questions.
17. Obtaining castings of fingers for falsifying fingerprint identification.
18. Browsing social networking websites for personal details published by users, often using this information to appear more credible in subsequent social engineering activities.
19. Diverting victims’ email or post in order to obtain personal information and credentials such as credit cards, billing and bank/credit card statements, or to delay the discovery of new accounts and credit agreements opened by the identity thieves in the victims’ names.
20. Using false pretenses to trick individuals, customer service representatives and help desk workers into disclosing personal information and login details or changing user passwords/access rights (pre-texting).
21. Stealing cheques (checks) to acquire banking information, including account numbers and bank routing numbers.
22. Guessing Social Security numbers by using information found on Internet social networks such as Facebook and MySpace.
23. Low security/privacy protection on photos that are easily clickable and downloaded on social networking sites.
24. Befriending strangers on social networks and taking advantage of their trust until private information are given.
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