What is Identity Theft and How to Prevent it?

Identity Theft

What Do You Understand By The Term IDENTITY THEFT?

Identity Theft is a criminal activity of procuring personal or financial information with the ultimate goal of using the identity to steal money or to make a financial gain. The rise in technology has paved the way for the thieves and made it easier for them to impersonate any identity. Hence, the cases of such cyber-crimes have now increased to a massive rate. 

It is quite difficult to safeguard yourself from such attacks. However, you can reduce the risk by learning more about identity theft, its repercussions, and measures to shield yourself. 

Distinct Types of Identity theft

There are distinct methods by which thieves try to get their hands on your personal information. Some of the common types of identity theft are:
  • Data Breaches
  • Unsecure Browsing
  • Dark Web Marketplaces
  • Malware Activity
  • Credit Card Theft
  • Mail Theft
  • Phishing and Spam Attacks
  • Wi-Fi Hacking
  • Mobile Phone Theft
  • Card Skimming

Adverse Effects of Identity Theft

Identity theft is a big crime as once the thief has stolen your personal information, he/she can do several things to harm you. It might result in mental stress, financial loss, and several other damages. To get a better understanding of the effects that you might have of such a cyberattack, look at the information provided below.
  • Fraudulent credit cards or debit cards might be issued on your name. 
  • Insurance claims might be taken on your behalf.
  • Unauthorized purchases to be made from your bank account.
  • Your personal data might be sold to others.
  • Your tax return might be filed.
  • They may steal all your money from your accounts.
  • Threaten your family on behalf of your information.

Precautionary Measures to Prevent the Occurrence of theft

Precautionary measures are way important so as to provide a protective shield to your information and your own self. Once you become the victim, it takes months and years to compensate for the damage that has occurred. Hence, it is suggested to all the users to follow the measures priorly so as to prevent yourself.

1. Secure your Social Security Number

A social security number is a nine-digit number that contains all your personal and financial information. It guards you and your data by providing best-in-class protection. Hence, you should never share your SSN to anyone. Also, never throw the receipts or statements having your SSN. Always tear them properly and then shred the paper.

2. Create a Powerful Password

A strong, unbreakable, and difficult password is needed for securing your account from unlawful access. Make sure you use a different password for all your accounts. Never add your personal information in your password. Passwords are like the guard for your account. Hence, you must be extra cautious while you create one. It must 8-12 characters long, have different characters, and should not be easy to guess.

3. Add authentication security

Adding an extra layer of security will reduce your risk and provide you with better security. Enabling authentication security will make it difficult for the thief to gain access to your information. While you add the authentication, make sure you choose a difficult security question which is not so easy to think.

4. Enable the notifications

Notifications are must to remain updated with the activities happening in your account. Enabling the notifications will inform you every time your account is being accessed or if it’s used for any transaction. This will help you to know about the suspicious activity instantly so that you can report it and reduce your loss.

5. Keep an eye on your emails

Emails are an easy way to get access to your personal information. You must review all your emails. Never revert to the mail asking you to provide your personal information. With that, you must be extra careful when it comes to spam emails.

6. Carefully throw your receipts and statements

Payment or withdrawal receipts and other bank statements contain lots of your personal and financial information. Hence, you should not throw papers anywhere. Either you keep them stored with you or shred them into multiple pieces so that no information can be collected through it.

7. Make the use of digital wallets

A digital wallet is a secure method of making online payments. They protect your payment details with extra layers of security and encrypt all the transactions that you make.

8. Keep your mobile device protected

Smart devices are subject to higher risks. They contain all your information, have access to all your accounts, save your important documents, and more. Hence, it is very important to keep your mobile device protected. Use a strong password with two-factor authentication. Make sure you keep your Bluetooth and location off unless you are using it. Also, be very careful while downloading any file or attachment to your device.

9. Use private network

Using a public network for making any of your online payment might result in data loss. So, you are suggested to not connect your device to any unreliable source of the network especially when you want to make an online payment.

10. Other Safety Measures

The list of precautionary steps is endless. There are hundreds of measures that you must take or keep in mind to keep yourself away from cyber attacks such as identity thrift. Some of the other measures are updating your firewall, monitoring your credit reports and other statements, be cautious while sharing your personal information especially the OTP or bank details, keep a check on your billing cycle, freeze your credits, and use security software.

Signs that You Have Become a Victim

Identity theft crime starts with stealing your information and goes into a major problem. Hence, it becomes vital to spot the theft and takes measures to protect it from further damage. So, you must be attentive and take the following signs carefully. We are mentioning some of the signs that will make you aware that you have become a part of such a criminal offense.
  • Unauthorized activities are taking place through your account. 
  • You are not receiving the emails or messages from the official identities.
  • You are getting messages asking for your personal information.
  • Your electronic tax filing is getting declined.
  • Banks are declining to provide you the credit even when you have a good credit score.
  • Getting the email saying that your account gets accessed.
  • You are getting bills on your name without seeking for the service or the product.

Actions to be Taken by Theft Victims

In case you already get trapped by the attackers, then you should attentively take the measures to curb the harm and prevent your damages from further increasing. You must always be aware of such steps priorly so that you can take the actions instantly. So, we are stating some of the measures that identity theft victims should take.
  • Contact your bank right away and report the fraudulent activity that has taken place. Also, get your credit card, debit card, and even your account blocked.
  • Ask your bank from the credit report of the last few months and check it to know the unlawful activities that have taken place.
  • Inform the official authorities about the activity and report the crime.
  • Make your loved ones aware of such activity so that they can remain alert. 

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