Many people can be confused with the term “identity theft” and still wonder whether or not your identity can be stolen with just your name and address. Well, to clear up the cloud over such an intimidating issue, the simple answer is no. However, your name and address can be used as a gateway to stealing your identity.
Here, we explore the four ways that the gate may be exposed to potential identity thieves.
Identity thieves are always on the lookout for personally identifiable information that they can use to start piecing together a person’s financial details. This can include information like name, birthdate, Social Security number, and address.
Depending on what criminals might find, they can do things like stealing from existing accounts, opening new credit accounts, or committing other crimes using a fake identity. An identity thief may try and use your name and address in several different scenarios:
- Using a database to find more information: A thief could plug your name and address into a publicly searchable database to see what other pieces of information they can find.
One website charges as little as a dollar for reports that include someone’s phone numbers, employment history, marriage and divorce records, education methods, and more.
- Using your name and address as security answers: When you call a customer service number about your account, it is common that they’ll ask you to verify your name and address to see that it’s really you calling.
If a thief has the answers to those questions, he may be able to slip through and get more details about your financial accounts. Checking your credit report for suspicious activity may help you catch who might have access to your accounts.
- Redirecting your mail: With a name and address, a thief can change your address via U.S. Postal Service and redirect to their address of choice. With access to your financial mail, the thief may intercept bank statements and credit card offers or bills, then order new checks and credit cards.
Thankfully, the postal service has a few security steps in place to catch this kind of fraud. You can also help thwart this type of theft by opting into paperless billing for all your financial accounts and opting out of unsolicited credit card offers.
- Sending fraudulent offers via mail: Another attempt at theft offline includes “phishing,” which is when a phony entity sends you mail cleverly disguised as a legitimate institution asking for money or financial information. These pieces of mail may include counterfeit bills, change-in-service notifications, or lottery-win notices.
If you get a piece of unsolicited mail that looks suspicious, report it to the Federal Trade Commission.
In most identity-theft scenarios, a thief will need more than your name and address to commit fraud. And while these details could be a gateway into your financial accounts, you can add a line of defenses such as Identity Protection services. Identity Protection services can provide you with everything you need to combat the risks of exposing your information to the wrong people. Identity Protection services work night and day to give you the peace of mind your whole family deserves.