Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in current times. People wanting to steal your identity can get your personal information just by doing a simple search on the Internet. Once the thief has obtained this information, he can use it for personal gain and completely ruin your reputation and credit rating. Unfortunately for the victim, it takes longer to clean up the thief’s mess than it did for him to make it.

Thieves have been doing many things to obtain personal information about people for years. Some of the ways your identity can be stolen can just amaze you. It’s actually quite pathetic what some people will do to steal your identity. Knowing how a thief can get your personal information can actually protect you from becoming someone’s next victim and having financial problems for a long time.

The way that still amazes me that someone could get your personal information is dumpster diving. Why anyone would want to stoop so low as to crawl around in garbage just to get information is just completely beyond me. However, dumpster diving has been a favorite of identity thieves for years. Anything that you have thrown away that has personal information on it is up for grabs by a thief. Gives new meaning to “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure” doesn’t it?

Another way for thieves to gain access to your personal information and use it against you is by what is known as shoulder surfing. This is when the thief stands really close to you at the ATM or checkout counter and copying or memorizing your card and pin number. There are ways to prevent people from doing this. You can simply shield the keypad with your body and hands or if the cashier has to swipe the card, cover the numbers while passing it to her.

Another way, which is becoming the more popular choice for thieves, is to use the internet. This can be done through fake emails requesting personal information and screen names and passwords. It can also be done by hackers breaking into your personal accounts and stealing information that is kept on file. When you sign up for an email, most of the time you are asked for your full name and address, if a hacker gets a hold of this information, he can use it to steal your identity.

The last way a thief can get your information that we will discuss is through radio waves. If you are using a cell phone or cordless phone to order something, the thief can listen in with a baby monitor, walkie-talkie or a police scanner. Police scanners can pick up cordless phone conversations with in close range and anyone could be writing down your credit card number and other very personal information even if you are in the privacy of your own home. A good way to prevent this is to simply not give any personal information over cell or cordless phones.