Protect Yourself from Identity Theft Effectively
By Nancy William 8 minutes
There’s a lot to learn about the modern digital age, and with that said, even though there are more than many ways to protect yourself online, there are equally as many cybersecurity threats. One of the more popular or high-tide threats today is identity theft. This guide will give you easy solutions to identity theft or ways to incorporate fraud protection mechanisms in everyday life.
Take a look at the table of contents below to know what’s in store!
Table of Contents
- What is identity theft?
- How does identity theft take place?
- On a scale of 10 to 100, 70% are victims of identity theft
- Signs that someone has taken over your identity
- How can an identity thief get a hold of your information
- How can you protect yourself against identity theft?
What is identity theft?
Before going ahead with the best identity theft protection solutions, you need to first go through the basics so that you have a better understanding about what identity theft is.
What is it?
Identity theft, in short, is a threat to the online security and privacy of an individual. Unfortunately, it is a crime and one of the most fast-pacing fraudulent issues today. Attackers can steal your information from credit card details, passport information, social media data, and other financial credentials.
When information like this is within their hands, they can easily use it to commit fraud by impersonating you, regardless of it being through fingerprints or social security numbers.
The possibilities are endless when you’re a victim of identity theft. The perpetrator can easily use your identity to make online purchases, use your bank accounts, apply for passports or air tickets, and even impersonate you to access safety deposit boxes.
How does identity theft take place?
There’s really no particular way or place where a thief can steal your identity. In this digital age, the majority of us have our entire lives online. Wherever your information is stored runs possible risks for online identity theft and other dangers like a data breach or social security breaches.
You will be surprised at ways someone can retrieve all your information. With the number of hours we spend online, we often visit numerous websites in a day. You will find that not just random, but some of the most popular websites store user data; Facebook is the most significant example. Identity thieves can even steal information from a simple piece of paper with just a few relevant details on it.
You won’t imagine how one perpetrator can store and log your information using different means. These attacks can take place on a phone call, where you might think you’re talking to your bank manager asking for your social security number and other details. Unfortunately, there’s sometimes no time to think a situation like this through. These attacks happen instantly. With the number of us logging on to apps using fingerprints, let’s just say that too can easily be compromised.
With the above said, it’s really easy for someone to steal bits of your information and use it against you, causing identity theft. Unfortunately, most users let their guard down when they download certain apps that only ask for minimum information like your name and birthday.
That is more than enough information needed for identity theft. Plus, you might have noticed that most apps sometimes ask permission to access video, audio, contacts and media files. Maybe for a camera app that’s the right procedure to ask for media access, but why contacts?
The guide isn’t targeted to get the public paranoid but rather aware that much can go wrong when they’re not looking, and in most cases, happens right under their noses.
On a scale of 10 to 100, 70% are victims of identity theft
Most users are oblivious to the fact that identity theft is at an all-time high! In fact, if you’re a resident in the USA or Russia, you will experience the hit all the more! According to 2019 stats by Javelin Strategy &Research report, around 14.4 million consumers were victims of identity theft.
If we talk about simpler numbers, you can say around 1 in every 15 people were victims. As mentioned above, that US citizens are targeted far more than usual, and in fact 33 percent of US adults have been victims to identity theft.
There was an estimate of $56 billion in loses within only the year 2020 due to the rise in the pandemic. Speaking of the pandemic, around $400 million was lost due to the high-rise in Covid scams, with which around 70% were because of identity theft.
Signs that someone has taken over your identity
Before we move on to a few ways where you can fall victim to identity fraud, let’s first identify the signs that you’re already in the middle of one.
- Unusual bank transactions being generated without you issuing it
Sometimes most people mistake an unusual monetary transaction as a system glitch and often sweep it under the rug. Take these signs seriously and contact your bank authorities immediately.
- Your mail that contains sensitive information goes missing
We get mail containing passports, bills, credit information and other sensitive information. The moment you stop receiving it for a couple of sessions, make sure you look into it. Identity thieves go for any document or piece of paper that contain even minuscule details.
- Your credit allowance has been denied
Instead of just checking in on your credit score once a blue moon, you should get yourself a service that keeps track of your credit against identity monitoring.
- Breached email IDs or other sensitive information
Data breaches happen every other day, and most users aren’t aware that their email, ID details and other identifying information can be used to commit breaches or frauds.
How can an identity thief get a hold of your information
The following are the most common ways an identity thief can get access to your information:
- There is a lot that goes unnoticed on the internet. Most websites monitor and store information. When you log on to a malicious page, they can use your information to steal your identity; often called unsecured browsing. When you’re entering a website, make sure it’s https and not just http.
- Data breaches occur almost every day like clockwork. Attacks are usually targeted towards organizations that hold access to numerous user data at banks, hospitals, insurance companies and more.
- Phishing scams are also a way for thieves to steal user identity. The perpetrator can impersonate your bank manager or any legal agent through call, text or email, and ask the user to provide information like social security numbers, or other personal information.
- Never leave pieces of paper with information just lying around. A simple line with your name, address, and number can be used. Discard of all mail that you think is obsolete but contains personal details.
- Have you heard of RIFD theft? The attacker can use a device to scan the RFID code on your credit card chip. Then, it can clone and used to make online purchases and other things. Even though this isn’t a more significant threat than other schemes, it is best to read up on RIFD blocking.
How can you protect yourself against identity theft?
Measures to ensure identity theft protection aren’t as difficult as most users assume. First things first, reading and brushing up on your knowledge is crucial. A little cybersecurity knowledge can take you a long way.
Other than that, a few security software help fight against identity theft, but right now, the most reliable option is using a VPN. You need to look for a provider that offers the best VPN features that help curb the rise of identity theft. We often help our users identify the common cyber threats of today, especially those revolving around identity theft.
Apart from using security software like a VPN to help protect you online, other useful methods don’t involve using software. Here are a few strategies you can adopt to stabilize ID protection that can enhance solutions to identity theft. Here’s how:
- You should download your bank app because it makes sure you’re up to date with all the latest transactions.
- Creating strong passwords for multiple social media platforms and other apps is crucial. Using a weak password means it’s an easy target.
- Most data breaches involve stealing and misusing user data. Do something about it before it gets out of hand or, respond to it as soon as the company notifies you. Change your ID or passwords accordingly.
- Make sure you report identity theft as soon as you’re aware or suspicious.
These are just a few tips that are effective. However, you can use a VPN as it strengthens your overall online protection! All-in-all, stay focused of everything around you. As mentioned above, sometimes paranoia is the best key to protecting yourself online. Follow the short but effective tips above to avoid identity theft, monitor your finances, change and use strong passwords regularly, use a VPN, and make sure to look up authentic sources from any emails, calls, or texts you receive.