We often don’t realize the value of our identity. We take our identity for granted in many ways and use debit cards or other identity disclosing things carelessly. Today, with the availability of the internet at our fingertips, it is even easier for attackers to obtain more sensitive information.
The cases of identity theft are increasing gradually every year. The number of identity theft cases rose to 45% in 2020. Identity theft often results in even more significant losses. People lose not only their identity but also their hard-earned money. Also, they lose trust in the company/bank in which they put their funds.
This article will provide you with detailed information on identity theft and what security measures you should take to prevent it.
What Is Identity Theft?
Identity theft is an online crime in which criminals pretend to be someone else by assuming that person’s identity. They typically do so to access resources or obtain credit and other benefits in the other person’s name. Identity thieves can drain your bank accounts, seek utility services, empty your tax refunds, or they can even use your name to commit crimes. Data breaches help identity thieves because they expose many personal details, like passport numbers, get exposed to the public.
Types of Identity Theft
There is a big difference between “identity theft” and credit card fraud. The most prevalent types of identity theft are mentioned below:
- Credit identity theft. It happens when an offender opens a new credit line by using the victims’ personal details like date of birth, address, etc.
- Child identity theft.Itoccurs when another person uses a child’s identity to open a new credit line. They do it to perform illegal activities like buying goods, smuggling, and selling drugs.
- Medical identity theft. This type of identity theft often involves stealing an individual’s medical insurance or health care ID number. The offender then uses the victim’s information to receive medical services paid by the victim’s health care plan.
- Criminal identity theft.It involves using someone else’s personal information to avoid the consequences of one’s criminal activities, like arrest warrants, outstanding fines, or probation violations.
- Account takeover fraud. It happens when an online account is hacked by a cybercriminal who then uses that account to make unauthorized purchases or change the account’s personal information to lock out the legitimate owner.
How to prevent identity theft?
Your data is an asset that requires utmost care and respect. Companies might struggle to secure it, but there are ways to protect your information.
Freeze All Your Credit-related Accounts
The process is simple, and it can protect your credit from identity thieves. All you have to do is contact any one of the nationwide consumer credit reporting companies. You will need your personal information like date of birth and address for this. After you put a request, these companies will put a security freeze on your credit reports.
Use VPN While Browsing
Use an excellent VPN service when doing online transactions.A Virtual Private Network helps in hiding all your sensitive information from hackers as well as from your Internet Service Provider. It masks the device’s IP address and ensures that no one can snoop on your connection.
Don’t Give Your Information in Public Places
Be very careful while giving any personal or financial information in public places like shopping malls, etc. They often ask for your ID/Driver’s license numbers for freebies and samples. Try not to fall for such tricks as they can steal that data to commit crimes.
Don’t Display Personal Information on Social Media
Be cautious with what you share on the Internet. Many cybercriminals rely on your status updates, profile pictures to get information about you. Some even hack into your account to send lots of spam or virus-infected messages to your friends. So be very happy but don’t post anything on social media about your mobile number, address, or even date of birth.
Check Your Credit Report Regularly
This is another good way to prevent identity theft. You can check your credit reports at least once a year to ensure no suspicious activities are going on in your name. If you see any changes in the information, then contact the consumer reporting company immediately. It is also a good idea to check your credit reports before making any major purchases in the future.
Create Different and Strong Passwords for Your Accounts
It is a good idea to create different and strong passwords for all your accounts. Please avoid using identical passwords for all your accounts. Cybercriminals often try to hack into a person’s email account and then work their way through various social media sites to get information about the victim.
Enable Two-factor Authentication
Two-factor authentication is a great tool to keep your data secure. It means you have to put in a code sent from your service provider before using their services and logging into any other account from a new device.
Most of us have heard the story about how someone’s identity was stolen. It might be your friend, a family member. The problem is that these stories are becoming more and more common as our society becomes increasingly digital. To stop it from happening to you, follow the preventive measures mentioned above.