Did you know identity theft is a fairly modern term, however its roots lie in the ancient times when espionage and impersonation was a part of the power struggle between the different kingdoms and nations?
The coining of the term ‘Identity Theft’ happened in 1964, when it was used to address a case of Identity-related fraud and now it’s ubiquitous.
According to a recent study in 2018, there were over 14 million cases of identity fraud. No one, when they’re online, is completely safe from this menace. Hence, it is extremely important that you try to gather as much knowledge regarding identity-related fraud to escape the clutches of the identity perpetrators.
Listed below are a few things you should know regarding identity impersonation and frauds.
1. Your Credit Card No. Isn’t Required
Even if you’ve managed to keep your credit card details safe and hidden, there are still several ways how the thieves can get to it. This means that no matter where you’re at, you should leave no door open for the perpetrators to get hold of your personal information. Try not to leave any important documents scattered around your place and make it a habit of locking them up when you leave your house. If you want to buy identity theft protection service, make sure you buy it from reliable companies.
2. Frauds Can Happen At ATM Terminals
ATM terminals can be some of the riskiest places and can be used as bait by the identity thieves. They often tamper the ATM card slots with scanners, so whenever you use your cards at the terminal, all the details regarding your card and account gets registered. Some perpetrators have also been known to gather the security no. from the camera feed. Hence it is important that you cover the keypad before entering your PIN.
3. Avoid Paper Bills
Paper bills not only affect the environment but also pose a threat to your personal details. Most bills also display your personal information like name, address, date of birth and other sensitive information, which can be easily stolen. If you do not receive a particular bill or receive it later than you expect, there are high chances that they’ve gotten into the hands of the Identity thieves. Opting for e-statements and bills not only saves precious paper but also keeps your precious information from getting into the wrong hands.
4. Fake Search Engine Results
Search engine manipulation is also one of the most dreadful tools of identity thieves. They often use fake webpages and websites that will appear at the top of the results and will require you to enter some personal details. Not many people are aware of this scheme and often end up divulging their sensitive information that results in identity theft.
5. Beware of Unknown Wi-Fi Hotspots
We all love free internet, but little do we know that the identity thieves can also use fake Wi-Fi hotspots to steal the personal details. So if in case your smartphone, tablet or laptop shows some generic names for available hotspots such as Airport or Hotel Wi-Fi, there’s highly a chance that these are fake and are aimed at retrieving some sensitive personal information.
6. Debit Cards Shouldn’t Be Used During Checkouts
While the media is promoting the use of Debit cards, we all must be aware that debit cards have really poor protection against any frauds. Whenever doing some shopping, make sure that you use a credit card instead of your own account card. The reason is simple; the credit card is funded by the providers and doesn’t involve your personal income or bank account. So even if the details are taken from a credit card, they can be easily protected from fraud as compared to your band debit cards.
7. You Can File For A 90-Day Fraud Alert In Case
Even if you find yourself victimized by identity theft, not all is lost. In case you feel your personal information has been compromised, there is always a 90-day period during which you can check on all your details and request a fraud alert. It provides you with a detailed credit report, which is totally free of charge and helps pinpoint the fraudulent transaction. In case you find any discrepancies you can also freeze your account and prevents anyone from accessing it.
8. Sign Your Cards As Soon As You Receive Them
Most new cards need to be activated before and one must also sign on the back of the card to protect it from any unauthorized use. Make sure you use a permanent marker or a sharpie to do your signatures so they cannot be overwritten or erased by the thieves. Leaving the activation sticker is also a good trick as one would need to make a call to the card providers to activate the card.
9. Even Military Personnel Aren’t Safe
We all must understand that identity theft is a common problem and can be faced by anyone. Even military and police officials have been targeted by the identity thieves by presenting fake retirement or saving schemes, so there is no reason to get careless with your personal information. Most thefts occur simply due to the lack of attention and failure to protect your sensitive information. Hence, one must always check the validity and genuineness of any special programs for those who served in the defense.
10. Online Statements Must Be Checked Regularly
Unless you like surprises, it is always better to be pre-informed regarding any unauthorized or shady transactions. Checking your online statements not only helps you keep a track of your monthly expenses but also highlights any transactions that can possibly be a result of identity fraud.
Although it sounds like something that only targets the wealthy, Identity theft should never be taken lightly by anyone. There is a countless number of ways how perpetrators can get hold of your personal information – see our latest article on white-collar crime. Hence, it is essential that you gather the proper information and with a little care and caution, you can stay one step ahead of the identity thieves.