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Common Types of Identity Theft

Stay informed about the common methods used to steal your personal information.

Fraud Prevention Center


Protect Your Identity

Learn about the common methods used to steal your personal information.


In phishing schemes, the perpetrator sends an email to consumers falsely claiming to be from a legitimate company, in hopes of luring consumers to a "spoofed" website. The spoofed website is almost an exact copy of the legitimate website, created for the sole purpose of stealing personal or financial information. Consumers are typically asked to update sensitive personal information, such as names, account and credit card numbers, passwords, Social Security numbers, etc.


In pharming schemes, thieves create false websites to entice customers to enter their personal data. To avoid pharming, make sure you always check the http address. When you get to the page where you're asked to enter personal information, the http should change to https. The "s" stands for secure.


Vishing mimics phishing by trying to trap you into divulging your account numbers. But instead of being phished in an email message, you may receive a phone call from an automated dialer telling you your credit card has been used illegally. You're then asked to dial a fake 800 number asking you to confirm your account details and credit card number.

Keystroke Catchers

In this scheme, the keystroke catcher can record all the information typed on a keyboard. This type of theft is more common with computers that are available to the public. To avoid keystroke catchers, check for suspicious devices connected to your keyboard and try not to enter sensitive data on shared computers.

Card Skimming

In card skimming, thieves capture your credit data from the magnetic strip of a credit or ATM card. This type of credit card fraud is becoming increasingly common internationally as travelers use their credit cards around the world. How can you keep your credit cards safe? Try to use only one credit card when you are traveling so that you can easily identify and report fraudulent charges if they occur.

Database Theft

Identity thieves who want to steal more than one identity at a time are now looking to databases. How can you guard against database theft? Make sure that the people who keep records on you are being responsible about protecting and encrypting your files.