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16 Ways a Con Artist Gets Information on Potential Victims

  1. ATM skimmers - Devices are attached to the real ATM card readers that capture your PIN and account numbers.
  2. Cameras - Cameras are installed to watch as you enter your PIN to access your account.
  3. Credit card theft - A thief steals the victim’s credit card, credit card statements, or credit renewal card.
  4. Free draw ballots at shows - After the winner is drawn, the remaining cards (with personal information) may be sold to a marketing company.
  5. Government statistics - Ethnic composition, percentage of seniors, or single residents, as well as other information, can be found by the diligent researcher. Con artists can even target a neighbourhood based on property values.
  6. Illegal sources - Some criminals can seduce, bribe, or intimidate workers who have access to privileged or personal records and data banks to search and provide information on potential victims.
  7. Internet searches - A skilled researcher can gain a wealth of comprehensive information from a powerful search engine alone. In some respects, the internet can provide so much information that the con artist’s problem may be to filter out the information that is not needed, rather than to find useful items for the fraud or scam.
  8. Mailbox and dumpster diving - A thief goes through the victim’s mailbox, trash or the trash of a business looking for personal information found on items such as old bills or credit card application forms that have been thrown in the dumpster.
  9. Marketing companies - These companies legitimately collect and sell information about consumers, including retirement status, address, income, and phone number.
  10. Obituaries - Obituaries not only give the names of people who are bereaved but also list relationships, marital status, the mother’s maiden name and even backgrounds, areas of interest, and associations, all of which may be exploited by a con artist.
  11. Phishing - Con artists may attempt to get personal information by sending an email with a link to a page that resembles a banking page but is actually a page where they can collect your personal information.
  12. Telephone numbers and other directories - Many directories include addresses and postal codes, some have reverse directories to help trace numbers, and some business directories contain information on types of occupancy.
  13. Tricking you - Con artists can pretend to be a close or long-lost relative and effectively pry personal information out of you.
  14. Potential victim, neighbours, and friends - We often give information about ourselves, our families, our relatives, and perhaps our neighbours and friends without realizing it.
  15. Questionnaires or product registration cards - These questionnaires or cards gives others access to some personal information.
  16. Shoulder surfing - A thief uses observation, such as looking over the victim’s shoulder when:
    a) the victim is entering his/her personal identification number (PIN);
    b) entering computer passwords in a public location
    c) filling out a form that asks for personal information.
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