Just imagine, out of nowhere you receive a sudden message. That says you are getting two tickets to South Island. A week at a very fancy hotel oh! And dinner and fine wine to match, ooh la la! What a vacation! The only problem is that you’ve never been anywhere near France, but a credit card with your name on it has been. It looks like you might be one of the millions of Americans who have experienced fraud or identity theft. Hello viewers! Welcome back to social tomatoes.
This concept of identity theft is understood by a few. But happens to many of us. Let us tell you why discussing this is the need of the hour?
Identity theft effects
Identity theft affects millions of people each year around the world, with the USA hitting the highest number of about 15 million people a year, making 33% of identity theft cases worldwide.
Just a few decades ago, credit card frauds and identity theft were things that people rarely thought about. Today there is a greater risk we could end up as victims.
Does it really effect you?
Is it really a matter of concern for you?
Identity theft costs businesses and consumers billions of dollars each year and that does not even include credit card fraud. Before we get into protecting ourselves let’s talk about what differentiates fraud from outright identity theft. An example of fraud is when someone uses your credit card to make purchases. While the charges for a new laptop that you have never bought are from your pocket.
While identity theft is a little more complex. It’s someone pretending to be you who has somehow gotten hold of your personal data. For instance your social security number, birthday, or passwords and has the intention of passing himself off as you. A thief will use your name and other information to commit fraud by opening up credit cards and loans in your name. They may even commit other crimes and use your names when they get caught.
How such frauds of identity theft are made?
Crafty fraudsters or we better label them as thieves can steal identities in several ways.
Some fraudsters commit identity theft by stealing physical information. They do so by dumpster diving. Stealing mail or taking discarded devices like computers printers or phones that have not had their hard drive wiped.
Sometimes, they rely on social engineering which is when the fraudster manipulates or tricks a victim into giving up information. A common form of this is phishing where a fraudster impersonates a trusted individual or entity and asks the victim for sensitive information.
Identities can also be stolen through high-tech means like malware or data breaches. Where hackers target large organizations and steal the information of a multitude of employees or customers. Information stolen through data breaches is often sold on illegal trading websites with many different avenues to grab your information.
Things to think through
Do you still think that this should be left unaddressed? Had it ever happened to you?
Even if it never happened to you, it’s always good to know that how to protect yourself.
Can we keep our information protected from such fraudsters? Is there any way?
Yes! A lot more than you think, while there is no way to keep your information completely safe, but there are many things you can do to protect yourself from both, the high-tech thieves and the guys picking through your trash.
Identity theft prevention
Here are 8 tips to consider adding to your own strategy:
1- Check your credit report
The major credit bureaus, watch for accounts you have never opened a check activity on accounts we haven’t used in a while and accounts you do use. Watch your credit card account activity closely. And check your bank statement often, because the earlier you spot the suspicious activity the easier it will be to clean.
2- Be unique
Take the time to create different passwords for all of your accounts. The idea is to create a system that’s easy for you to remember but impossible for others to guess. When it comes to user names make sure they are not obvious like your name or email and avoid using your social security number whenever you can. Had you been doing it? Or do you just find it unimportant to make your information complex for others to know?
3- Beware of strangers
If you are receiving a phone call asking for information, ask to call them back, find their official phone number online and call that number back to verify the claim.
4- Mind your mailbox
Believe it or not, your mailbox can be a big threat to your financial security. Don’t allow thieves to steal pre-approved credit card applications or those blank cheques that come from credit card statements.
Have you been sending your personal information via email? Never do so, because reputable organizations will never ask for this.
5- Shred your trash
They are out there, dumpster diving and trash picking. They are even raiding a garbage can and recycling bin looking for social security numbers and account information so buy a shredder and make it more challenging for them to get the goods on you. Had you ever shred your document before you trash it? If never then be vigilant for the next time.
6- Get smarter about being social
Okay! I know that times have changed and social media has made it easy to get in touch with everyone but putting every little detail about your life out there for the world to see, gives the bad guys an advantage you need to make it harder for thieves to answer personal questions about you. So, keep your personal information personal to not become a victim of Identity theft.
7- Save yourself
Whether using your home Wi-Fi or a computer at the library you need to save your info. Start by password protecting your home’s network and when you log in on the go especially to any of your financial accounts. Don’t do it on an open network.
What to do If you or someone you know does become a victim of identity theft?
Those were some prerequisites. But what to do If you or someone you know does become a victim of identity theft? When you find yourself in trouble, you need to take the following steps:
1- freeze any affected financial accounts,
2- check and freeze your credit report
3- file a complaint with the federal trade commission (if in the US)
4- report the incident to your local authorities.
The problem never informs you before it comes. It is always sudden and troublesome. So, you and your loved ones should surely know about protecting themselves from identity theft. Share this video. Had you ever had this problem of identity theft? If any? Then do forget to share your experience in the comment section below. See you in the next video.