Complete Guide to Tackle Identity Theft Problem

It goes without even saying that identity theft has been increasing at a huge rate over the past few years and will continue on its course, unless people become more aware of what they have to beware of. With the term of identity theft, we generally mean anything that has to do with the exploitation of sensitive data on behalf of a crook. This includes stealing one’s identity online at a social media platform to benefit from their reputation or even getting to the bank accounts of a person without consent.

If you believe that this does not concern you, we are sad to inform you that you have been mistaken. On the contrary, the statistics indicate that such a phenomenon will only get worse along the way – it has been getting a lot worse with every second that goes by and the same is not likely to change. As you can see here, in 2013 there was another victim of identity theft suffering within the United States every 2 seconds!

Now, before you start panicking about the truly discomforting situation of Internet users nowadays, you need to remain calm and deal with the facts. It is needless to say that hackers and online impostors have been growing more sophisticated and that they are now much better equipped and informed than they used to be some years ago.

However, this does not mean that you are doomed to wait till you are next as an identity theft victim. You ought to gather all the information and act accordingly, so as to get the proper precaution measures that will keep you off the radar of these impostors.

First things first and this is why we are going to start by naming the most frequent identity theft scams for you to beware of.

Most Common Identity Theft Scams

It is only fair that we know what we are up against, in order to be able and deal with the problem efficiently. So, off we go with what we need to know regarding the most usually occurring identity theft scams:

  • Phishing: Phishing aims to lure Internet users and get them to click on compromised links to websites or ads. If you do click on such a problematic link, the chances are that you will be intercepted some of your sensitive data on the spot. If not, you will be encouraged to write down your personal info for taking part in a so-called contest, signing up to a newsletter etc. You should avoid it, at any cost!
  • Pharming: With pharming, traffic gets redirected from a legitimate website to a fake one. Imagine you fall for that and you type your log in credentials to your personal account; it is a distressing situation that enables identity theft and that occurs on a frequent basis.
  • Impostors: There are many people who impersonate a different person online, particularly on social media platforms. This is how they try to take advantage of a person’s reputation and gather attention or even lure and mislead others.
  • Email Scams: As its name suggests, email scams use the email services for reaching out to you. Suspicious emails are sent every single day and people are still falling for the same scams (although they have become more aware of the threats lying beneath the emails sent by untrustworthy sources).
  • Credit Card Slots at Gas Stations: Since filling your vehicle with gas is something that every driver has to do at some point, there are hackers who access your personal information using credit card slots at gas stations. Upon paying for the gas that you have used, the hacker can penetrate the system and get your sensitive data.
  • Shared Accounts: Of course this is not limited to identity theft threats. Sharing the information of your personal account can lead to negative consequences, one of which is certainly the interception of your personal data and the lack of your privacy. You should in no way trust others with important details about your accounts.

Next, we are going to highlight all the things that you can do, in order to prevent identity theft from happening to you. You had better pay attention!

How to Prevent Identity Theft Online

There are some simple and at the same time crucial guidelines that you ought to comply with, so that you can have greater chances of remaining identity theft-free in the long run. We are certain that if you are scholastic and ensure that you have everything well planned, you will stay off the radar of the hackers for good. So, let’s hit it!

  • Monitor Your Credit Profile: One of the major threats that somebody has to deal with is by far any financial loss, due to identity theft. So, it is essential for you to keep record of your credit profile and get to monitor any changes. Even if it might seem tedious to you, it can help you avoid any monetary prize that you would otherwise be forced to pay.
  • Software Downloaded by Trustworthy Sources: It is true that suspicious websites are filled with menaces that can steal your personal information. This is why you need to click only on the things that you are absolutely sure of (downloads included). As you can easily comprehend, when you visit a site that you do not know or that you have never heard anything of, you instantly increase the possibility of being intercepted of your precious uniqueness.
  • Wireless Network Security: As it has been proven over time, wireless networks are much more vulnerable to hacking than any other network available. As a result, you need to take all the proactive measures that will help you better your overall wireless network security. Adding a security code (not the one used by default) is a great solution to up your protection.
  • Purchase Things Online with Caution: Shopping online can truly save you a lot of money and trouble. Nevertheless, if you are not careful you may end up paying much more than what you have saved! This happens due to the lack of security protocols available on certain websites. Consequently, you ought to be sure that you only complete your purchases securely online at sites that are reputable and that have the SSL security protocol (with the padlock on the address bar).
  • Use OpenDNS: If you wish to stay clear from the threats that lurk in the dark on the web, you have to invest some money on your own protection. Getting a subscription to OpenDNS can help you out substantially. In specific, this option will assist you with a cloud delivered network security service offering automated protection against all kinds of attacks.
  • Unique Passwords on Every Account: Even if it is really convenient to use the same password and username for every single account, this is a true suicide when it comes to identity theft protection. Upon cracking a single password, the hacker will have gained access to all your accounts and this is a catastrophe to consider. So, feel free to be creative and add solid passwords to every account you hold. And why not, go with using password managers that truly take care of your security.
  • Use Quality and Latest Antivirus: Today, everyone knows just how crucial it is for Internet users to install and benefit from best performance antivirus programs. You need to make sure that you have installed the latest version of your antivirus software, so that you can rest assured that no threat has remained unresolved. Check for updates regularly.
  • Suspicious Attachments Should Be Deleted: Do not give in the temptation of clicking on something that has been sent to you in the form of an attachment, unless this comes from someone you know and trust. Spyware and other viruses on multiple attachments and links to sites can result in devastating effects.
  • Use HTTPS Everywhere: Introduced by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, HTTPS Everywhere is an extension for Chrome, Firefox and Opera that allows you to keep track of the security layering on every site you attempt to visit. According to the health level of the site, you are either permitted or banned from visiting it. Only sites of HTTPS are allowed for you, in order to ensure that you get the encryption that you deserve.
  • Stay Up to Date and Considerate: It is really important not to stay idle and just let the breakthroughs pass you by. Instead, you have to be kept up to date with the latest cyber security news, the technological advancements and the hazards that emerge online. Do not leave anything pass without considering all options and weighing both pros and cons. Allowing your mind to check all details on a matter, you will be much better off and we can guarantee that!
  • Don’t Unveil Too Much Info on Social Media: Social media platforms are overwhelmed with information. Although interacting with others online is a great thing to do, you should first filter what you share with strangers or people you hardly know. You may end up getting troubles with your identity, to say the least. Uploading pictures and sharing info such as your address or your phone can be causes of harassment or even identity theft.

From all the things that we have displayed above for you on the topic of identity theft safety, one can clearly realize just how important it is for every human being who uses a computer to be aware of the threats underlying.

Make the most out of your online protection by allowing yourself to surf the web freely and without any hesitation whatsoever. Do not sit tight and watch hackers spoil your superb user experience, when you can take matters in your own hands and get the safety layering that you are entitled to!

Pierluigi Paganini Cyber Security Analyst; Member, European Union Agency for Network and Information Security Threat Landscape Stakeholder Group; Founder, Security Affairs Blog. Co-author of The Deep Dark Web: The Hidden World.
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