What is identity theft?
A form of identity theft is any deception, scam, or crime that results in the loss of personal information, including usernames, passwords, banking information, credit card numbers, social security numbers, and health IDs, which are then used to commit fraud and other crimes without your permission.
In the past five years, at least 534 million personal records have been compromised through attacks on the databases of businesses, government bodies, institutions, and organizations, according to the FTC1. Every American would have had their identity stolen one and two-thirds times if those breaches were evenly spread across the U.S. population of 310 million.
Identity theft can cost individual consumers hundreds of dollars, months to resolve and cause them to lose job opportunities. This can also influence the rejection of loan applications for school, homes or cars because would-be employers or loan companies see the damages on their credit scores. Some consumers have even been arrested for crimes committed by someone using their identities. They must then prove that they were not the guilty party to regain their good name.
What are the ways in which identities are stolen?
Several types of exploits allow consumers to become victims of identity theft. When crooks (including family members!) steal mail from your mailbox, rummage through your trash for bank statements and bills, steal wallets and purses, or make an extra copy of your credit card - perhaps when the waiter or clerk leaves to process your payment - these can all happen in the old-fashioned way.
Users are at risk of online identity theft if they fall for tactics like phishing and confidence scams; download malware onto their computers or smartphones; use insecure wireless networks; use an ATM that has been rigged with a skimming device that collects your information; share their passwords with untrustworthy people, or have their information stolen when data records on companies, governments, and educational institutions are compromised.
Tips to Prevent Identity Theft Online
These are the tips given by Jeroen van Gils, CEO of LiFi said in an interview.
- Keep your personal information safe
If you're concerned about your personal information being stolen, there are a few simple things you can do to protect yourself. First, be sure to use a strong password and never share your login information with anyone. Second, don't leave your computer logged in to any unauthorized websites. Third, make sure you regularly back up your important files and folders so that you can recover them if something happens to your computer. Finally, be aware of the different types of scams out there that try to steal your identity. Be sure to report any suspicious activity or requests for personal information to your credit card company or bank immediately.
- Use a password manager
There are a number of ways to protect yourself online, including using a password manager. Password managers help you create strong passwords and store them in one place, so you don't have to remember them all. They can also help you manage your online security by generating unique passwords for each site or account.
To use a password manager, first download the app or extension on your computer and smartphone. Once installed, the password manager will automatically generate and store your passwords for websites and other accounts. You can also manually enter your passwords into the password manager whenever you need them.
Password managers are a good way to protect yourself from identity theft, as they help you keep track of all of your passwords and make sure they're easy to remember. If you do experience any problems with your online security, be sure to contact your provider and ask for help protecting yourself from identity theft.
- Monitor your credit reports
In order to prevent identity theft, it is important to monitor your credit reports regularly. You can get copies of your credit reports from each of the three major credit bureaus – Equifax, Experian, and Trans Union.
Each credit bureau has different rules about how often you have to monitor your reports and which reports you have to review. Generally, you should check your report every 12 months and review any new accounts or changes that may affect your score.
If you notice any unauthorized activity on your account or any changes in your credit score that you didn't authorize, contact each of the three credit bureaus immediately.
- Install updated software and security measures
Online identity theft is a growing problem, as criminals try to steal your personal information in order to commit fraud or take other unauthorized actions. Here are some tips to help you protect yourself from online identity theft:
- Use a strong password: A strong password is one that is difficult for someone else to guess, and is preferably at least 8 characters long. Make sure to use different passwords for different websites and don't reuse easily guessed passwords.
- Use anti-virus software: Install anti-virus software on your computer and update it regularly. This will help protect your computer against viruses and other malware that can steal your personal information.
- Be aware of scam emails: Be suspicious of unsolicited emails that ask for your financial or other sensitive information. Never provide personally identifiable information in response to an email request without first verifying the sender by checking their contact information or contacting them directly via phone or email.
· Protect your online privacy: Keep all of your online activity private by using a secure browser (such as Firefox) and encrypting any data that you send online using Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) technology.