How Does Identity Theft Work?The basic idea behind identity theft is that a criminal can get enough personal information about you to be able to pass him or herself off as you. The criminal can then do things like:
- Open credit cards in your name, and ruin your credit when he or she defaults on the payments.
- Take out a loan with a bank in your name and disappear with the money, leaving you holding the bill.
- Get checks in your name and pay for things with the money from your bank account.
- Get arrested - and give your name and identity to the police, causing a bench warrant to be issued in your name when they skip out on bail.
How Can Sweepstakes be Used for ID Theft?Before a criminal can pose as you, he or she needs to have some intimate information about you. Your social security number, bank account numbers, credit card numbers, and even your mother's maiden name can all be leveraged against you.
So where do sweepstakes come in? Criminals can use sweepstakes in one of two ways to commit identity theft. They can create fake sweepstakes pages that ask for personal information or they can contact you and tell you that you've won a prize, and you only need to hand over personal information to claim your win.
How Can I Protect Myself from Sweepstakes ID Scams?There are a few key steps to protect yourself from falling victim to ID scams while entering sweepstakes:
- Learn How to Tell Real Sweepstakes from Frauds
- Recognize the Top Signs that a Sweepstakes Win is a Scam
- Investigate Your Wins Before Responding to Notifications
- Learn How Much Information is Reasonable to Ask
- Take Common Sense Steps to Protect Your Identity
What Should I Do if I Fall Victim to a Sweepstakes ID Scam?If you recognize that someone is trying to pull a sweepstakes scam on you, you should report sweepstakes fraud to the proper authorities.
If you have fallen victim to a scam, you should take action immediately to stop any further identity abuse and to reduce the damage from any fraud that has already taken place. Here are some tips about what to do if your identity has been stolen.