How to Avoid Identity Theft Scams


ity theft is very common all over the world. During a five year period, the FTC found that over 27 Million Americans were affected by identity theft, with more than a quarter not realizing it till they tried to make a purchase or use their credit. While credit card fraud is the most common type of identity theft, there are many other scams around.


Phishing is one of the most common online threats, which involves creating a fake website that mimics an actual business or bank. The criminal will send out an email that looks official and states there is a problem with the account.

It is common to create a sense of fear, so the email often says the account was compromised or illegally accessed. When the victim clicks on the link, they are taken to the fake website and asked to enter all of their personal information. Sadly, this is incredibly effective, with PayPal, an online bank, being one of the most common targets of phishing.

Lottery Scams

During a lottery scam, the criminal will send the victim a letter stating they have one the lottery. Usually the lottery is in another country and it is always one that the victim did not actually sign up for. These are often sent over regular mail, but emaill lottery scams are also common.

Sometimes, lottery scams end up being just another form of phishing, but this is not always the case. It is much more common for the criminal to send the victim a check for the amount of the lottery. The check looks authentic and the criminal requests that the person wire back a portion of the check to cover administrative costs. The victim cashes the check and sends the money, only to have the check bounce a few days later.

409 Scams

Another twist on the lottery scam is the person in need scam. These are often called 409 scams, with 409 being the area code in Nigera, or Nigerian Scams, as they frequently originate from this area.

The victim will get a letter from someone who says they are related to the victim or somehow know the victims family. In the letter, the criminal will say that the victim has been left a great deal of money or that they need help getting money out of the country. They will then request money up front or may even send a check, using a similar tactic to the lottery scam.

409 scams are very easy to spot, as it is unrealistic to expect a random stranger to contact you to help smuggle money out of a country or that you have a rich relative you never knew. However, as is the case with most scams, the victim lets greed take over. Traditionally the criminals who attempt these scams have a very poor mastery of the English Language, but given time this will no longer be the case.

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