I have a friend who recently found herself the victim of identity theft. The scenario is that she got an email from PayPal confirming the purchase she made of some Chinese language software. And she doesn't even speak Chinese!
On investigation, she found out that someone had used her email address and credit card details to verify and process a purchase using PayPal. This is in no way PayPal's fault, it's just that a person (probably a retail assistant) has exploited their position for their own gain.
She recalls a purchase she made where the person asked for her email address - which she thought unusual. She did it, nonetheless. I doubt very much that this information was being captured for the use of the company. It was probably going into the retail assistant's record books along with the credit card number just used for the purchase.
As most of you would know, PayPal offers a service where you can make a purchase with your credit (or debit) card without having a PayPal account. I have used it myself and it's very handy. However, you should be aware that if someone ELSE has these details, they can pretty much buy anything they want online.
It makes me think about the times when a retailer has asked me for an email address at the time of purchase. I would give it to them too, thinking "What's the worst they can do ... send me some spam?". Wrong. They can grab your credit card details and the email address you unwittingly gave them and steal from you.
I am just saying that you should be careful who you give your personal details to. If someone asks for information that you don't expect, question them. If you're not sure, speak to a Manager to verify the need for the information.
The good news is that my friend got the email confirmation so she followed it up and will get the bottom of it. In fact, the receipt even had the identity thief's delivery address so it won't be hard to track them down. But it's just extra headache that we don't need. Money in our bank accounts is money that can earn us interest. When someone else steals from us, it's a point of frustration and anger.
So, consumers, beware who has your personal details. If someone unexpectedly asks you for personal details, don't naturally give it to them. If they are for real, they won't mind answering questions about why they need it. That little voice in your head saying, "He's a bit suss ... watch out" is usually right. Listen to it.
Til next time ...