Every few days there’s some report of cybercrime in the papers. Out of these, identity theft has become quite common. The victims of identity theft have to face financial loss and undergo a lot of emotional trauma.
But with a little bit of caution, you can protect yourself from identity theft. Read on to know how about the different ways how IDs are stolen, and some tips to help you understand how you can be safe from ID theft:
How to protect yourself from identity theft
To know how to how to prevent identity theft, you must know the techniques which are used to steal identity. Check out the ways which criminals use to steal personal information, such as driver’s licenses, social security numbers, credit and bank account information.
If you’re careless about throwing your old credit cards and other documents containing your personal information without shredding them into dumpsters/ rubbish bins, then you would be making it easy for criminal to gain access to your information. They rummage through dumpsters to see if they can find personal documents.
Retrieving data from old computers/phones and/or storage media
If you’re buying a new desktop, laptop, phone etc, then do make sure you delete all your personal information from them. PCs, servers, USB memory sticks, hard drives etc have to be checked to see that they have no information before being donated or sold. This is one of the ways how to prevent identity theft.
One of the identity theft facts is that identities are stolen from public records too, which are published in legal registers like electoral rolls.
Pickpocketing, mail theft etc
If a pickpocket ever steals your wallet or purse, then report the theft of all your IDs like driver’s license, passport, authentication tokens, or debit/credit cards etc. To protect yourself from identity theft, immediately call your bank and ask them to stop all financial transactions on your credit and debit accounts. Do report the theft of IDs to the police so that if someone tries to use your identification for any crime, the police will know it’s not you.
Common knowledge questions for account verification
It would be very easy to find out information such as your mother’s maiden name, first car’s name, pet’s name etc, through Facebook and other media. Protect yourself from identity theft and never keep these questions as your account verification questions, as they can be easily hacked.
Cyber criminals ‘skim’ information from credit or debit cards using compromised readers or hand held card readers and making duplicate/clone cards. So in order to protect yourself from identity theft, always use your cards carefully and check the readers too. They can and do acquire victim’s data wirelessly, if passports are RFID enabled.
If you feel somebody is watching you or trying to listen to you when you’re filling out personal information or giving your details to someone, then your suspicion might be absolutely valid. This kind of information gathering is called shoulder surfing and it usually happens in very crowded places.
Someone may be watching you type PIN numbers or passwords in smartphones, so be careful to hide with your body the keypad as you’re typing in the PIN number. Also, always turn off Bluetooth and VPNs in public places, or even when you’re travelling.
Identity theft with spyware
Some ID thefts are committed by using any breaches in user’s browser security or by using spyware or malware using keystroke programs etc.
You must have heard about this or read about it in the papers. In this kind of theft, criminals ‘fish’ for information by impersonating organizations victims happen to trust. They send SMSs, call or email to ‘fish’ for secret information like CVV numbers, login ids or via data collection forms. Protect yourself from identity theft and never give out your PIN numbers or CVV numbers to callers from any company, however serious they sound. No authentic organization will ask you for your CVV or PIN number!
Posting fake jobs
Always shred unused cheques or else unscrupulous people will get hold of your bank account information as well as your bank codes.
It’s quite unwise to accept ‘friend request’ from total strangers or someone who your friends hardly know, let alone you. Many such friends gain the trust of people, tell sob stories till the victims transfer money to their accounts to help them.
Child identity theft
Children’s IDs are stolen too, as they are considered to be very valuable. Their social security numbers should never be revealed to anyone as people can go use them to get loans, establish lines of credit and commit crimes. You should also be aware of the authorities to contact to know what to do in case of identity theft in children.
How you protect your child’s identity
- Never give out kids’ social security number etc, for sports and other extracurricular activities.
- Freeze their account. You can put a freeze on your child’s consumer record, if they are younger than 16.
- Do not label books, backpacks etc on the outside. Put their initials or names only on the inside.
- Do not allow the school or sports clubs, book clubs etc to release your child’s photo publicly.
- Talk to your child about keeping their personal information secure online.
- Register your child’s phone with the ‘Do Not Call Registry’ so that they cannot be solicited by telemarketers asking for their information.
Identity theft can be prevented by being alert and careful. Do not give out information, shred sensitive documents including old cards and dummy cheques. Keeping Bluetooth and VPN off in public places, browsing secure sites etc will keep your ID secure and difficult to steal.