Common Identity Theft Scams And How To Avoid Them

by Joseph · 3 comments

in Personal Finance

Yesterday in the post Identity Theft is No Laughing Matter I shared some basic information with you about identity theft. Today I’d like to take this one step further and educate you on some specific scams used to obtain your personal information. My hope is that by educating you on these scams you’ll be less likely to become a victim.

The Jury Duty Scam

You’re sitting at home enjoying your Thanksgiving dinner when the phone rings. You answer it and the person on the other end of the line is claiming to be a court worker and is telling you that you failed to report for jury duty and a warrant has been issued for your arrest. Naturally you’re skeptical and you tell the person on the other line that you never received a jury duty notification. The scammer then asks for confidential information in order to verify that you are who you say you are (how ironic is this?). This information usually includes your social security number, your birthdate and can often include credit card numbers as well, which is exactly what a criminal needs in order to commit identity theft.


Phishing Hook, courtesy of ToastyKen

According to the dictionary, Phishing is “the activity of defrauding an online account holder of financial information by posing as a legitimate company.” Phishing is widely used to try to gain account information for banks and other financial institutions. I personally get phishing e-mails from banks that I’ve never even held an account at. A great rule of thumb to avoid being phished is that a legitimate company will NEVER ask you to verify your account information through an e-mail (and likewise over the phone).

If It Sounds Too Good To Be True… It Is

There’s a simple rule to remember when it comes to protecting your identity and, by extension, your financial well-being. If it sounds too good to be true then it definitely is. No legitimate company will send you an e-mail asking for you to verify your identity. No entrepreneur in Nigeria wants to send you money.

Let’s wrap this up with a few links to some documented scams: e-mail scammers, Gmail phishing attempt, PayPal phishing guide.

This post was written in response to the Spend on Life Credit Blogging Scholarship. If you’re a student with a blog and would like the chance to win a $2,000 dollar scholarship check out the Spend on Life Blogging Scholarship!

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Trevor November 29, 2008 at 10:50 am

I’ve seen a lot of articles on this recently.

Good post nothingless.


AmericasChoiceCredit January 20, 2009 at 11:15 am

This was really a great post, and this blog is really boosting my knowledge in the financial industry which is a great help as I run several credit websites like, making it very important to get all the up to date finance info I can. Good luck to everyone with in the new year.

P.S. I definitely recommend subscribing to this blog’s feeds they are a wealth of information.


Joseph January 20, 2009 at 1:46 pm

Thanks for your kind words and vote of confidence. I’m glad to hear that I’ve been able to help you learn more about the financial services industry, as that’s part of the reason I started this blog in the first place.

As for recommending everyone subscribe to Debit versus Credit… ya’ll need to listen to that great piece of advice.


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