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Protect Yourself Against Identity Theft

4 Things Identity Thieves Don't Want You to Know



Protect yourself by learning what identity thieves are up to with this helpful Business Insider story.

More than 11.6 million consumers reported identity theft in 2011, a 13 percent jump over the year prior and a figure that's likely to rise as we continue our love affair with digital banking.

MoneyGram, the second largest money transfer business in the US, has learned a thing or two about the lengths fraudsters will go to in order to dupe consumers.

Sometimes the key to sniffing out the bad guys is to throw on your skullcap and think like one.

Here are four things they say identity thieves don't want their victims to know:

Related: 10 Heart-Wrenching Dating Scams That'll Break the Bank

Your trash is treasure: Go ahead and toss those credit card offers in the trash — if you want some savvy crook to sign up under your name. "A good rule of thumb is to shred all personal documents before disposing, from unsolicited credit card applications received in the mail to receipts received at retailer checkout locations," says MoneyGram's Kim Garner, senior vice president of global security and investigations.

Read on for more.

Your Facebook profile is a cheat sheet: Use LinkedIn or Facebook? You top the list of potential fraud victims, and here's why: "Information you post on the Internet is never completely private, and fraudsters are adept at accessing information online, even within privacy settings," Garner says. Don't post your full birth date, home address, pets' names, or anything else that could be used to impersonate you.

Family and friends are key: Ever wondered what fraudsters want with all your old emails? It gives them unlimited access to your friends and family. "Fraudsters can hack email addresses and pose as a friend or family member and then ask you to wire funds for some type of emergency, such as bail money or medical care," Garner says. It's one of the oldest tricks in the book and is still working, especially on the elderly.

They're looking to "hire": If you haven't seen the headlines about job seekers getting duped into forking over their tax refunds — and even their lives in some cases — then here's the skinny: fraudsters prowl job boards and hone in on consumers looking for quick cash. "Notifications of a job offer that asks you to send money via a wire transfer before you can start to make money may not be the best job for you," Garner warns. "Remember, you shouldn’t have to pay anything up front to start a job."

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