Identity theft can happen to anyone. We all have become victims in some form or another. However, as prevalent as it is, we don’t talk about it often. This is precisely how scammers take advantage of people’s lack of awareness.
So, let’s discuss the details and reduce the risk of getting victimized.
We all enjoy online interactions due to the convenience and flexibility they offer. The ease of online shopping, banking transactions, and worldwide business opportunities. But are you aware of the risks that come with it? More precisely, do you know the latest online scams going around?
- Scammers try installing viruses or harmful software to hack your computer or phone.
- Impersonate delivery agents and generate fake authentication codes to log in to your accounts.
- Pretend to be a bank officer and call to frighten you about a bank account error and ask to share account details with them.
These latest scams all lead to gaining access to personal information and banking details and generally target older adults. This results in devastating consequences, ranging from financial losses to reputational damage. Sadly, more and more people are becoming victims of online scams each day.
So, how to prevent identity theft?
We’ve put together these tips to protect you from online fraud. Also, we will talk about the What’s and how’s of identity fraud.
How Does Identity Theft Happen?
Identity theft occurs when someone pretends to be you and uses your personal information. One of the reasons ID thefts are becoming common is because they are straightforward – all they need is a phone! They get access to your contact number and begin calling or sending fake messages or emails and hacking into places where your data is stored.
Once they assume the victim’s identity, they commit financial fraud, open fraudulent accounts, and cause significant damage before their actions are discovered.
Hence, learning how to protect yourself from identity theft is essential.
Top 7 Tips to Prevent Identity Fraud
These tips will guide you in keeping your account safe. Also, they provide guidance on how to detect scams.
1. Keep Your Personal Information Private
One of the primary ways identity theft is committed is when scammers gain unauthorized access to personal information. Yes, we understand that all our data is on social media. But we can be cautious about it.
- Legitimate organizations never request personal information via email or phone calls.
- If you are notified with ‘Suspicious login,’ immediately change the password on all platforms.
- Don’t fall for ‘Tax Refund,’ ‘Lottery Win,’ or ‘Send your account details to PAY you’ scams.
- Never send money after clicking an unauthorized link.
- Always verify the authenticity of an inquiry before responding or sharing any information.
- Check your mobile and social media’ ‘Sharing’ permissions.
- Use two-step verification to access your phone and apps.
- Don’t click on unrecognized links. (For example, renew-netflix[.]com.)
2. Use Strong and Unique Passwords
Make sure you are not on THIS list. We need to emphasize the importance of having a solid password. It is the easiest way to access your phone or social media.
- Of weak passwords
- Don’t use easy-to-guess passwords like your family’s birthdate, marriage anniversary, etc.
- Harmful apps or malware that can crack passwords and hack accounts.
- Create strong and unique passwords to safeguard your online accounts.
- Avoid using easily guessable passwords like “123456” or “password.”
- Most companies follow this rule – use a combination of letters, numbers, and special characters.
- Use different passwords for your accounts. If a scammer gains access to one, at least, the rest are safe!
3. Enable Two-Factor Authentication (2FA)
Have you seen a safety net? Yes, the one that stops you from falling. Two-factor authentication works like a safety net.
It adds another layer of security to your online accounts. So, if a hacker manages to crack your password, they won’t be able to go past the secondary authentication method.
Forms of 2FA:
- Temporary access code will be sent to your phone
- Email link sent directly by THE COMPANY to verify your account
- QR Code
4. Beware of Phishing Attempts
Have you received any mail claiming to be from legitimate businesses, but they are scam mail? That is phishing. Cybercriminals use this common tactic to trick individuals into revealing their sensitive information.
- Never click on links sent in unverified emails; they are generally harmful links
- Never respond to emails like ‘Problem with your payment/account information.’
- Payment links from unrecognized sources
- Check for spelling mistakes in the email or message
- Always verify the sender’s email address. (For example, [email protected] OR [email protected].)
- Double-check the URL before clicking. (For example, eBay – www[.]ebay8[.]bar.)
- Never share sensitive information through email.
5. Regularly Monitor Your Financial Statements
It is essential to keep a check on your finances. Monitor your bank and credit card statements to detect any unauthorized transactions. Immediately block your accounts and report this to your financial advisor if you notice any unfamiliar activity.
- Check your account statements at least once a week
- Never access your account statements using public WIFI
- Don’t auto-save your bank account passwords
6. Secure Your Devices and Networks
When was the last time you checked your device’s security program? A better question – Do you have security software?
As a practice, regularly update your device’s operating system and applications. If you don’t have an antivirus program, do download one. Also, ensure your house or work WIFI is password-protected to prevent unauthorized access.
7. Be Cautious on Social Media
These days, we update our entire life’s activities on social media. What we ate, where we traveled, our house’s latest addition, and much more. Cybercriminals often gather such information to craft a profile and send convincing phishing messages. This information is also used to crack passwords.
- Limit the amount of personal information you share online
- Don’t share your birthdate, address, or vacation plans.
- Adjust your social media’s privacy settings to control who can see your posts and information.
What To Do if My Digital Identity is Stolen?
We hope you never have to face this! But follow these steps if your digital identity gets stolen:
- It is crucial that you don’t panic, it will cloud your decisions.
- Immediately block your account statements and credit cards.
- Contact your financial institutions, like your bank and credit card companies, to report the theft.
- Though it is too late, change all your digital account passwords.
- Maintain a record of all the conversations and losses during that timeframe.
- Lastly, consider using a professional identity theft recovery service to guide you through the process.
Remember: Be swift, organized, and patient. This is crucial to reclaiming your identity and minimizing the potential fallout.
Protect Your Data
Scammers are always finding new ways of digital identity thefts. Use your vigilance, education, these seven tips and take proactive measures. Remember the basics: use strong passwords, secure your personal information, monitor your financial statements, and stay vigilant against phishing attempts.
Stay informed, stay secure!