Thieves obtain paper documents containing your personal information by rummaging through your mail or trash, stealing your wallet, or breaking into your home or dorm room.
Predators commonly use some form of pretense scam, known as “phishing” when initiated by email, and “pretext calling” when carried out by phone, to trick you into providing your personal data.
The most common scam is a fraudulent email or phone call posing as your bank, university, the IRS, utility company, or a commonly used service, such as UPS. A problem is presented, such as your bank account will be frozen, or a package cannot be delivered, urging you to provide information by phone, or by clicking a link that takes you to a predator’s website. These calls and emails can be very convincing, indicating dire circumstances if you do not respond immediately.
Another common scam is a fraudulent email indicating you've won something highly desired, like the latest electronic gadget. All you have to do is click on a website link and provide your card number or bank account information to cover "shipping and handling" costs. The item never arrives and fraudulent transactions hit your bank account.