You can’t ignore the dangers of identity theft in the digital age. Online management of financial resources has made consumers more vulnerable to hackers and imposters. According to a statement by the Insurance Information Institute, 16.7 million cases of identity theft were reported in 2017. These numbers are not going to decrease any time soon. 30% of US consumers experienced a data breach last year. The US government and consumers should work together to curb the rising crime of identity theft.
What is Modern Day ID Theft?
A data breach or identity theft is an illegal attempt to use someone else’s credentials for fraudulent activities. The US government recognizes identity theft as a Federal crime. Anyone found guilty of identity theft in the US could face jail time of 1-7 years. Identity theft has become a grave concern for consumers. The Consumer Sentinel Network maintains a record of consumer fraud and identity theft in the US. According to them, they received 3 million complaints in 2018 related to identity theft and fraud.
How does Identity Theft Work?
Thieves steal personal data from consumers through various tricks. These tricks range from acquiring bank statements from the mailbox to hacking and online scams. This information gives the thieves access to financial and social accounts of the victims. They use the compromised credentials to gain access to financial accounts.
What is The Use of Stolen Identities
Theives have the intention of using the breached information for fraudulent activities. Imposters use compromised data in the following events.
- Opening of new financial accounts
- Getting access to the existing financial accounts
- Insurance fraud
- Online shopping from victim’s account
- Selling victim’s information in the Black Net
- Using the victim’s identity in criminal activities
Protection from Identity Theft
Identity theft brings a string of interconnected losses and disappointments for victims and their families. It is better to take preventative measures beforehand to protect your data from identity thieves. Identity protection aims to add a series of complicated steps in getting personal information. Remember that identity thieves alway seek easy targets. Anything that does not play by their rules discourages them. You can strategically protect your data by taking these steps.
Use Strong and Different Passwords
Unprotected houses are always robbed first of their valuable items. Similarly, a computer or financial accounts without a strong password attracts identity thieves. A survey report by Experian states that 50% of total US citizens do not add password protection to their digital devices. Lack of password protection makes people an easy target for identity theft.
Moreover, do not make the mistake of using a single password for all of your social and financial accounts. Imposters are going to try their luck on each of your accounts. That is why using different passwords ensures safety to your accounts.
Maintain a Record of Your Financial Activities
Your bank accounts and e-wallets contain your wealth; leaving their activities unrecorded is not a wise move. It is a little difficult for anyone to remember all of their transactions. However, maintaining a record is essential for the protection of your data, and it doesn’t take a lot of time if maintained regularly.
Identity thieves do not make big moves initially. They make gradual advances to take over your financial accounts. A single suspicious transaction can give you a clue of possible theft of your identity.
Avoid Clicking on Malicious Links
Thieves lure their targets by sending them malicious links in emails and text messages. Breached data gives the hackers control of most of your existing accounts. They can also order new services for them by using your name and money. Never enter your login or bank details to an insecure site. Doing so can make access to your information easy for hackers.
Never Give Away Sensitive Information About Your Financial Accounts On Phone Calls
A call from customer service asking for your PIN Code or social security number is an alarm bell. Nowadays, banks educate consumers to avoid giving login details to anyone on a call. A true representative of your financial institution will never ask sensitive information about your financial accounts.
Thieves seeking information pretend to be part of financial institutions. In the case of getting a suspicious call contact your financial institution and report the suspicious call.
Protect Your Documents with Personal Details
Do not leave hard copies of bank statements and credit card details in your mailbox because ID thieves do not spare your mailbox. For tackling mailbox theft, you can instruct your bank to send soft copies of your bank statements. Moreover, by using the option of particular instructions, you can also fix the delivery time of your documents. In short, never give a chance to the thieves to steal away your information.