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Consumer tip: How ID theft occurs

Monday, August 12, 2002

By Kathy Jo Pollack

Identity theft occurs when someone obtains your personal identifying information (name, address, birth date, Social Security Number, credit/bank accounts numbers) and uses it for his own purpose.

This information can be obtained in obvious ways such as stealing a wallet or in less obvious ways. Someone may rummage through trash for receipts, watch you enter numbers at an ATM machine, eavesdrop, steal your mail (pre-approved offers and statements) or gather information from the Internet.

Armed with this information, an identity thief may open new credit in your name, change the address on an existing account, open phone/utility service, apply for employment, or get a loan or bank account in your name.

This is the second of four installments on ID theft. Last week: Preventing ID theft Next week: Minimize risk.

Kathy Jo Pollack is the education training specialist for Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Western Pennsylvania. For more on ID theft, attend a free seminar at CCCS on Sept. 10, 1-888-511-2227, Ext. 145, or track the ID theft tips by searching for Consumer Tip at www.post-gazette.com/yourbiz.

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