Identity theft is becoming an increasingly worrying problem. Reports show that billions and billions of dollars are lost each year due to identity theft and many others are left in ruins due to their stolen identity. But, do we really know how identity thefts happen? Here are some of the most common ways that identity theft can happen to you or your loved ones.
#1 Lost or Stolen Identity Card
This is the most common method of stealing someone’s identity. Just with a social security number, impostors can easily utilize your credit scores in order to take out loans, obtain housing and access your savings and retirement funds. They can even make large purchases on your name, leaving you with a bad credit score or worse, bankrupt.
The best way to keep sensitive information such as your social security number safe, it’s best to leave your Social Security card at home, where it’s much safer. Also, always be aware of your surroundings, especially in a crowd so that you avoid being a victim of pickpocketing.
In the era of the technologically advanced, phishing is seen as quite a significant threat. Phishing is actually a form of “information fishing” (hence the name) which tricks the user to enter confidential information into a doctored site in order to use the details for their own gains. Scammers can conduct phishing via emails, fake websites and even texts.
The most common modus operandi is to impersonate a brand or company that the person is already associated to, such as their bank or mobile phone operator and send a link to a doctored website. The user will then be tricked into keying in their personal details, which will then be used to drain the funds from their accounts.
#3 Stolen Handheld Devices
Smartphones and tablet PCs are also another gateway to identity theft. Most people are tech savvy these days and prefer to use online banking services instead of having to wait in line at the bank. This however, could cause you to fall prey to scammers looking to pose as yourself. There have been many reported cases of different scams tactics that target handheld devices, especially smartphones
These devices store the login details and PIN numbers to your online banking accounts in the cache or even the hidden files within your operating system, in the form of code. Hackers, who can gain access to your phone via wi-Fi or Bluetooth remote access, will be able to extract these details from the lines of codes and even identify the bank that you use, based on the apps installed in your handheld device. So, always remember to clear your cache after ever online transaction to prevent your sensitive data from being stolen.
#4 Mail Theft
Mail theft is also another avenue that allows scammers to get their hands on your private and confidential details. They can easily nick your banking account details from your bank statements and use a hacking system that bypasses the two-time authentication in order to access your funds. Once they have their hands on your banking mail, they would also be able to re-route your banking statements to a different address by putting in a simple request with your PIIs or personal identification information.
Besides banking mail, any medical records or reports, personal checks and even tax-related documents can provide the scammers with all they need to access all your private accounts. The best way to avoid such issues is to have the mail delivered directly into your house through a mail-flap. This ensures that all your mail is safe within the locked and secured confines of your home.
#5 Social Media
Almost everyone has a social media account these days. But, did you know that your identity can also be stolen via social media. Features on social media such as adding of location and your basic info section on your profile are a good start for any scammer to steal your identity, especially if they have reason to believe that you have quite a sum in your bank account.
It is always best to keep low on social media and be wary of the things that you post. Avoid showing off your bank balance and cash on your updates. Also, don’t reveal too much information on your profile, such as your mobile number, email and address as the hackers can use these details to run a simple phone number lookup, address lookup or email search to find out any details that they need, direct from public records.
There are always new ways that are being discovered by scammers and identity thieves to get their hands on your personal details. Now that you know the main methods by which identity theft can happen, be wary and stay vigilant to ensure the safety of your private and sensitive information as well as that of your loved ones.