Cases of identity theft are surging these days with someone being a victim of it every minute, even after all the precautions that are being taken by the financial institutions and credit card issuers. It is a rather unpleasant modern crime. It is one of the most common crimes these days which affects the customers brutally. These days cases of identity theft are reported more than the cases of credit card fraud. A cyber thief just does not steal your identity but uses it to carry additional crimes under your name. They can make fraudulent transactions with your name, which can result in really unwanted results. In this article, we will discuss what identity theft actually is and what are the ways in which we can prevent identity theft.
Identity Theft – Meaning
If put into simple words, identity theft is a fraudulent practice of using some other person’s name and personal information to get loans, credit, etc. Personal information can include your name, address, bank account details, information about your debit and credit cards, and much more. When the scammers are able to get all this information about you, they use it to apply for loans and credit cards in your name and initiate and complete unofficial bank transactions. Identity theft can also take place when you share your personal information on unprotected websites or some untrusted people. This crime can put you into extreme trouble with the official authorities even if the crime is committed by someone else but is under your name having appropriate knowledge about the same can help you in avoiding being a victim of identity theft.
Ways To Prevent Identity Theft
Preventing your identity from being stolen basically depends on how vigilant you are towards safeguarding your personal information. Following are the ways in which we can prevent identity theft from taking place –
Use Strong Passwords & Change Them Frequently
All your online accounts should be protected with strong passwords so it becomes difficult for any hacker to hack your passwords. Your password should be inclusive of upper case and lower case alphabets and special characters. Also, avoid using very common passwords such as your birth date, anniversary date, etc, or passwords such as ‘123456’ or ‘qwerty’. These types of passwords are quite easy to crack and would make it an easy task for the scammers to hack your account. Also, you should not stick to the same password for a long time. You should keep changing them regularly.
Protect Your Personal Documents
All your financial, medical documents, or any other document that contain your personal information should be kept under lock and key. When in a condition that you have to dispose of the documents that contain your personal information, make sure that you black out all the identifying information properly. This is because even if your documents get in the hands of the scammers, they will not be able to read any of your personal information as you have already scraped it.
Carry Only Required Documents With Yourself
Only those documents, which are of utmost importance, should be carried along while going out of the house. You should not carry unnecessary documents with you. The cards or important documents which are of less use should be kept in a secure place.
Protect Your Electronic Devices
The following steps should be undertaken to protect your personal information saved on your electronic devices –
- Do not download files from unknown and non-trusted websites.
- Keep your virus protection software updated.
- Never trust the auto-login option. Manually enter your id and password every time you try to log in to your account.
- While disposing of your electronic devices, make sure that you delete all the information that you had saved on your device.
Use Two-Factor Authentication
Always use a 2-Factor Authentication process for all your accounts because nowadays most people have saved their data on online accounts. Hence if a hacker is able to break through your main account, he will then have access to all your remaining accounts. Hence, you should have 2-Factor Authentication enabled on your accounts. It is an added step towards verification of your account after you enter your password, in which it will send a push notification to your smartphone.
Avoid Using Insecure Public Wifi
Public Wifi networks are rarely configured with strong privacy protections and they become a popular platform for cybercriminals to steal your identity. Hence you should avoid using public Wifi networks and use a VPN instead.
Always Check Your Credit Card Statement
As credit card fraud is also very common, you should keep a check on your credit card statement for any suspicious activity taking place. If you find one, you should inform your credit card issuing company immediately.
Identity theft has experienced a rise these days. Therefore it is important to keep a check on all the signs that you might think may lead to identity theft. Though the scammers always keep coming up with new ways to commit identity theft, staying vigilant is our responsibility. If we take care of the points like safeguarding our personal information and keeping every important document under lock and key, blacking out the documents before disposing of them, etc, we can protect ourselves against these scams.