- April 21, 2021
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You must have watched the movie “Identity Thief” by now and I am sure you must have enjoyed it as much as I did. If you have not, it is about that extremely loveable woman, Melissa McCarthy and a naïve Jason Bateman whose identity she steals. But unfortunately in the real world, Identity Theft is nothing to laugh about as I learnt the hard way.
When I suddenly found out that all of the money in my bank account had been used for the propaganda of a terrorist group in a particular social network, I realized that identity theft is not a laughing matter, and of course, it could happen to anyone. Here is me, the naïve Jason Bateman, trying to realize at four o’clock in the morning how on earth could I ever join such a group or better, even spend all of my money on it. I was beside myself with feelings that I have never experienced before. On one hand I was flabbergasted and on the other hand I was crying my eyes out thinking of how I could have spent all of my money while I was sleeping.
After several calls to the bank and my card issuer, I was relieved to hear that at least I was not the only one that night and as such it was easier to claim my money back. At the same time, while obviously my account had been hacked, that particular social network had banned my account for terrorist financing. Why did this happen? Because I was careless enough to add my card details on a particular social network as I was paying for an online advertisement.
What is defined as Identity Theft?
In almost every country on earth, there are people who make a living by stealing other people’s identities. In fact, identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes, together with hacking, viruses and several types of cyber fraud. Although it may seem like something that only happens to others, identity theft can affect everyone. The more you know about how this can happen, the easier it will be to protect yourself.
Identity theft occurs when someone uses your personal information without your knowledge. The risks can be significant. When you do things like link to a website, enter a contest, sign up for a social network, or pay bills through an online banking platform, you provide a collection of information that can be stolen. Once identity thieves have collected this information, they can use it to buy goods, take control of the victims’ electronic accounts or take legal action on their behalf. In the short run, the affected people may suffer financial losses due to unauthorized withdrawals of money and purchases made in their name. This does not mean that you should not follow these procedures; it just means that you should be smart and protect yourself.
How you should protect yourself from identity theft.
- Secure your connection: If you are going to use your personal information online, make sure you only do so when your connection is secure – preferably through your home or corporate network or mobile data. If possible, avoid public Wi-Fi without password protection. If you have no other choice, use a virtual private network (VPN) that will encrypt all your communication and thus protect you from personal data interception.
- Keep your devices safe: Protect your laptop, smartphone and tablet from malware and attacks using a reliable, multi-layered and up-to-date security solution.
- Stay away from suspicious messages and websites: Do not respond to messages that look suspicious and stay away from unauthorized websites.
- Learn how to choose the right passwords: Create strong passwords that are long, difficult to guess, and unique. You can even keep all your passwords in one service or password manager software for even greater security. To add another level of protection to your passwords, use two-factor authentication wherever and whenever possible. Important Note: Never reuse any password on multiple accounts or services. This way, even if attackers are able to obtain a password, the damage they will cause is limited to that account (or service).
- Monitor your bank and credit accounts: Regularly check your bank account and credit cards for suspicious activity. This can help you uncover an attack before it can do much damage to your finances or reputation. Also, set limits on your transactions to prevent any misuse of your money.
- Be careful with sensitive data: If you want to throw away any physical documents that contain personal information, make sure you dispose of them safely – making them non-recoverable or shredding them. A similar logic applies to your electronic devices: On sale or disposal of old smartphones, tablets or laptops, make sure that you permanently delete all sensitive data stored in memory or hard drive.
- Don’t Exaggerate Information Sharing: At a time when most users have multiple social media accounts, exaggeration can be a very serious problem, multiplied when posts, photos or videos contain sensitive information that may be intercepted to be used against you – such as your name, purchase orders, tickets or other similar documents. Avoid entering any of the above information, as well as too many details about your personal life, which could be used by scammers to act on your behalf.
- Credit Institution Tracking and Freezing: In most of the countries, users can request freezing of their credit cards, which will restrict access to credit reports, making it harder for fraudsters to misuse stolen information. Another thing you can do is choose one of the credit monitoring services that check for signs that someone is abusing your personal information.
Our main at eCREDO is to keep your finds safe. We are issuing prepaid cards and that is safer because the card is not connected to your IBAN account, compared to traditional debit cards that are connected directly to your bank account. That results in your money being visible in your account and therefore, it can be stolen.
In conclusion, there are daily best practices such as tracking mail to make sure your accounts arrive when they should, and taking the time to properly dispose of paperwork that may contain credit card numbers and other personally identifiable information.
And remember: The more private and secure you keep your personal information, the hardest it is for you to become a victim of identity theft.