Theft of identity, also known as identity theft, is a fairly common threat in cyberspace as people spend more and more time on the Internet. Simple everyday things like checking your credit card balance or connecting your device to Wi-Fi of a cafeteria, they can make you vulnerable to such attacks.
Identity Theft: What is identity theft?;
The identity theft, known as identity fraud, happens when someone gains access to your personal data (eg social security number, telephone number, date of birth, etc.) and uses them without knowing it.
The scammer can use your information for to empty your bank accounts, to open new ones with your own details, to make purchases in your name and more.
Many people fall victim to identity theft when companies, to which they have given their data, are violated by hackers. In data breaches, hackers illegally access a company's database and steal sensitive employee or customer information. Criminals can then use the stolen information to commit identity theft or sell to others on the dark web.
Also, criminals often deceive people by sending Phishing emails and messages which are supposed to come from legitimate companies, such as banks, online stores, etc. In these cases, the users themselves give their personal information, such as credentials to seemingly legitimate pages.
Types of identity theft
There are several types of identity theft related to the type of data stolen by fraudsters and the reason why they are stolen:
Financial identity theft
The criminal gains illegal access to your data and uses it for economic benefit. For example, a scammer can do application for a new credit card or loan, to open a bank account or use your debit card to make an unauthorized purchase.
Medical identity theft
An unauthorized person may use your information to receive health care services or to receive possible compensation for accidents etc.
In some cases, this can lead to confusion between the offender and the victim's health records, leading to misdiagnosis or inadequate treatment.
Account takeover fraud
The criminal steals data and gains access to bank accounts or social media accounts.
Once he has control of the account, the scammer can carry it out unauthorized transactions, such as withdrawing money, opening a credit card or manages social media accounts.
It could also gather more information to gain access to other accounts.
Tax identity theft
This type of theft happens when someone uses your data to file a tax return and collect refunds.
Most people realize that they are victims of this scam when their service notifies them that more than one tax return has been filed.
Synthetic identity theft
According to Synthetic identity theft, criminals combine real and false information to create a whole new identity. For example, they use someone's real Social Security number but in combination with a fake name, date of birth and address.
Also, many times scammers combine elements of many different victims to create a new identity.
Child identity theft
Children are also at risk of identity theft. Scammers can obtain information from a child from school or medical documents and use them to obtain a credit card or claim government benefits.
Criminal identity theft
This type refers to the case where a person provides personal information to someone unrelated, instead of giving his or her own to law enforcement when questioned or arrested.
This is a rarer circumstance, but it can lead to an arrest warrant for an innocent person or the creation of a criminal record.
Identity Theft: How to prevent identity theft;
Preventing identity theft is quite difficult, as many personal information is stored and shared digitally.
Once you share your information with a company or government agency, it is their responsibility to protect it from cybercriminals.
Complete prevention is impossible, but there are some steps that users and organizations can take to reduce the risk:
Secure documents with sensitive data
It is a good idea not to bring personal documents, such as a birth certificate or passport, as someone could steal them from you. If you need to have them with you, make sure they are always under supervision.
Also, when you are at home, store the documents in a safe or other safe place.
If the documents are stored digitally, protect your systems (see more below).
Do not share sensitive information unless absolutely necessary
Do not share social security number, bank card details and more sensitive information via phone calls, messages, emails or social media.
If you receive a phone call or email from a bank or other financial institution, make sure it is not fraudulent before giving your details. For example, if you receive an email from your bank, check for evidence of fraud, such as different name, typographical or grammatical errors, strange attachments and more.
Ideally, call the bank to make sure the email was actually sent by its employees.
Furthermore, do not open links contained in the emails. Open the page you are interested in in your browser.
Finally, think about that Legal services never ask for your personal information through emails and messages.
Check the movements in your bank accounts to detect potential suspicious activity. If you find something strange, contact your bank or credit card company immediately.
Use strong passwords and Password manager
Use strong codes to protect your accounts. Strong codes are usually large and include a combination of letters, numbers and symbols.
It is also vital do not use the same passwords on different accounts, so that if someone gains access to one account, they can not violate the others.
To make the process of protecting accounts with different passwords easier, use one password manager.
Enable two-factor authentication
Two-factor authentication provides additional security, as in addition to the normal code, it requires a second one, which is different each time and you receive it via email, call, message or special application.
If someone tries to access your account, they will not be able to do so without this second unique password.
Install antivirus software
Identity thieves may try to break into your Wi-Fi network, computer, or smartphone.
A Antivirus software can detect and remove malware designed for data theft.
This software also scans email attachments, applications and other files for possible viruses.
Consider Using a Virtual Private Network (VPN)
Public Wi-Fi networks can be dangerous, as they generally offer little protection and hackers could compromise your internet activity.
A VPN can protect sensitive information, while you are connected to public wifi. When you connect to a VPN, the software encrypts and protects your device's internet activity.