Don’t Be a Victim of Identity Theft
Updated: Apr 3, 2020
The following is an article “Don’t Be a Victim of Identity Theft” by Marc Primo.
One of today’s most valuable currencies is information. With practically everything going digital and most services accessible via downloads, identity theft has become one of the major threats for most people who go online. Last year alone, over 3 million reports of cyber crimes were received, with identity theft ranking as the third highest of fraud-related cases, according to the Consumer Sentinel Network (CSN).
As you enter your most sensitive information online when subscribing for content and services, there’s also a chance for cyber thieves to access your financial, personal, and business records. If you are still uninformed about the dangers of this type of online crime, now is definitely the time you should learn about how it can affect your life, and the steps you can take to prevent it.
Identity Theft can destroy you. Cyber thieves mostly steal information that can lead to profit. This means that they can assume your bank records and manipulate your accounts to their favor. Identity theft can also smear your reputation, lead to blackmailing, or even make you a criminal if you are not too keen on protecting your data. Simply put, scammers, phishers, and identity thieves can wreak terror in your life without you having the faintest clue. Most email service providers encourage users to install protection for their accounts and report suspicious emails immediately because of how fast identity theft can be executed. Operating systems also have firewalls that help prevent malware, so make sure that you are actively updating and arming yourself with the latest software against cybercrime such as Avast, Keeper, SolarWinds, and many others.
Fraud-related cyber theft is rising. 1.4 million cyber crimes were reported as fraud-related cases last year in the U.S. and the number continues to rise. The malicious act of stealing one’s Social Security number can easily allow cyber criminals to apply for credit cards under your name and use them to purchase goods or services anywhere in the world. Most cyber thieves aim to ruin you financially for their gain simply by retrieving your bank and government records. Identity theft does not spare businesses, either, as it can open card accounts, transfer money under the business name, or commit tax fraud. If you have a small business, then going digital from paper is absolutely the best route to take, but make sure you are well-protected so criminals won’t be able to access any of your sensitive data.
Agencies can help you monitor your financial activities. There are different types of consequences that identity theft brings, including personal scams, medical fraud, and financial rip-offs, just to name a few. Cyber criminals can file for a tax return and claim a tax refund, gain access to illegal pharmaceuticals, or medical services if you have an illness or impersonate you to draw money from loved ones or financial institutions in just a few clicks. Usually, victims only discover that they have been duped after the crime has been carried out and the bills begin to pile up. Soon, they find themselves paying for unknown debt with a failing credit score. To avoid this from happening, review your accounts regularly and immediately report any unfamiliar charges. Secure reports from the three largest consumer credit reporting agencies Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian to make sure nothing is out of the ordinary in terms of your financial activities.
You can prevent identity theft. Despite the many threats online, many measures have been taken by developers to counter identity theft. However, you should always be vigilant in protecting yourself whenever you access the internet. By now, it’s common sense to use strong passwords for your online accounts, and experts also suggest that you renew them regularly. You should also remember that when going online, you have the discretion to share information that you only deem is necessary, so review what you want to get out there and try to limit what you feed other parties as much as possible. Review how phishing scams work and try to spot them early on. Phishers usually pose as your bank, your service provider, or government agencies who would ask for your account numbers or social security details. Check your gut instinct, as well as their credentials and identification. Oftentimes, your best defense against identity theft is knowing what cybercriminals want from you and how you think they can get it.