Identity theft or impersonation is a crime but it is very common these days. And the alarming part is that not many people are aware of the concept of identity theft. Viruses attacking an individual’s laptop or desktop was a primary threat to people in the past. Many telecommunication companies introduced measures like antivirus services as part of their Internet packages to protect consumers from any threat. For example, AT&T offers this feature.
Identity theft is something that individuals themselves have to protect themselves against. Here’s your guide to identity theft.
What is Identity Theft?
Identity theft is also referred to as identity fraud. It is a practice where a person uses another person’s identity or his personal information without permission. This information includes the following:
- Driver’s license
- Social Security number
The criminals would then make use of this information to commit fraud. The nature of the theft is not restricted to one type only. Many different types of identity theft can occur. Because criminals are always in search of new ways to exploit others.
How is Your Identity Stolen?
It is not something that you would know about unless it happens to you. This is a rather scary part. Because the victim does not realize unless it is too late. In fact, in most of cases, you won’t know until you review your credit card history or the like. Which is even more dangerous because the maximum damage occurs by the time you realize about the theft. One thing that you should know is that there are various forms by which the data is stolen. Some of the common types of breaches include:
- Mail theft
- Wi-Fi hacking
- Phishing and spam attacks
- Malware activity
- Dark web marketplaces
- Data Breaches
- ATM skimmers
Protection against Identity Theft
Here are all the ways by which you can protect yourself against identity theft:
Use of Passwords
You should be very careful about your use of passwords. Make sure that you protect all your digital devices using a password. Many people do not feel that it is necessary to ‘password protect’ their devices. While there are some people who think that it is a hassle, others just believe that there is no need to have a password. Well, seems like they are wrong to think that way.
There are also people (the absolute geniuses) who will use one password across all platforms. I mean the hackers don’t have to do much to exploit their information. It is always a good (read: best) idea to have a combination of passwords. You should have a different password for Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram, for example. Note it down somewhere if the information is a lot for you to remember.
Stay Away from Shady Websites
Many crimes take place when you visit a shady website. You should always be very careful about the type of website that you are visiting. In case you are not familiar with what a shady or a skeptical website looks like, let me guide you. Identity thieves usually try to fool you into thinking that a certain website or an email is from your bank, for example. That is a very common trick.
Apart from that, they can even use website links that look similar to your credit card company etc. You need to act alert. In case, you feel that a certain website is not what you think it is, you should report it. Also, do not type your password or your username on any unfamiliar login screen.
Do Not Give Out Your Personal Information
Fraudsters have this common routine of calling various customers and pretending to be a representative from their bank or credit card company. They ask for personal details when they make such calls. You just need to remember one thing. You should never give your personal information to anyone over the phone. Avoid doing so. You never know who is on the other side. And the truth is that no legitimate company will ever call you to ask for your personal information. So no matter how genuine it may sound, do not share your personal information with anyone over the phone.
You have to play safe at all times. Be very careful. In case, you are not sure if the Internet service you have subscribed to offers protection against malware or not, then call the helpline. AT&T Customer service number or whatever the company is in your case is always working for such queries. So do not hesitate when in doubt.