Having your identity stolen is a scary thought that seems all too common these days. What’s really scary about it is what they may be using your identity for and how it can affect you. If someone steals your identity and rents an apartment under your name and then gets evicted, that could affect your ability to rent in the future. They could use your identity for jobs and not pay taxes or get fired which could hurt your employment record and your standing with the IRS. They could even use your information to run up medical or student loan debt.
There are certainly a number of ways that identity theft can affect you but the most common thing affected is your credit. Identity theft can devastate your credit and significantly lower your credit score. This can have a long-term effect on your financial future.
How Identity Thefts Affects Your Credit
Identity thieves will use your information to take out numerous credit cards. The credit inquiries alone, made each time they attempt to open a new account, could take 10 – 20 points off your score. They will max out each credit card they get approved for and never make payments. The credit inquiries, missed payments, increase in debt, and the poor credit utilization (debt to credit ratio) will all damage your credit score considerably.
These actions could make it impossible for you to ever get approved for credit in the future and affect other aspects of your life. Not to mention, the crippling debt that would all be in your name. Identity theft is no joke. Thankfully there are ways to protect yourself against identity theft and repair the damages if it does happen.
To avoid having your identity stolen, you may want to consider identity theft protection. You should also request a copy of your credit report each year to make sure everything is in order and there’s no suspicious activity. Early detection of identity theft can make all the difference.
Need help repairing your credit following an attack from identity thieves? Call Credit Absolute for credit repair assistance.
To Protect Yourself from Credit Card Fraud and Cybertheft
Credit cards have made life significantly easier especially when it comes to paying for food, clothing, and bills, among other things, with a single click. But as credit cards have become more popular, so have they become attractive to cyber-criminals. Credit card theft was the most often reported type of fraud in 2020, according to the Federal Trade Commission. Daily, the deception occurs, with hundreds of people falling prey to this heartbreaking event.
How Is Credit Card Fraud Committed?
Credit card fraud manifests itself in a variety of ways. The thieves employ a variety of methods to complete their missions. For instance, a fraudster may rummage through trash, discover an old billing statement, and then use your account details to make purchases.
Occasionally, a bank or retail website may be hacked, allowing attackers to steal your account information. They can then impersonate you and make transactions in your name.
These are just two of the numerous consequences of credit card theft. To safeguard oneself against such methods, the following are some measures you can take:
Give your account number to no one over the phone unless you are familiar with the company.
Never enclose your account number in an envelope.
Keep your eyes peeled at all times. Don’t forget to take your card with you as you walk away.
Ensure that you do not sign a blank receipt.
Additionally, you can always invest in credit repair services to instantly become a ‘credit pro’ and reap several benefits.
Credit professionals is a credit restoration company that offers a variety of services, including identity theft protection, credit monitoring, and budgeting assistance. It offers three different repair options, but it includes a fourth, which is identity theft and credit monitoring.
The following are some precautions to take to safeguard your credit card from hackers:
Take Caution with Unsecure Websites:
When a site is secure, a padlock appears at the top of the browser on the left side. When the URL begins with HTTPS, it indicates that the transaction is encrypted. The address of an unsecure website begins with HTTP.
Never provide your credit card information on an unsecured website. For the record, if a business does not care about the safety of its clients, it is not worth doing business with them.
Additionally, it is smart to purchase from stores with which you are familiar. If you are not, do some study. Examine features such as their website design; if it is amateurish, you can find your product elsewhere.
There are various reliable and secure eCommerce websites.
Make All Transactions Through a Single Account:
Regardless of how many credit cards you have, utilize only one for online purchases. As a result, you will not expose several accounts to hackers. Additionally, you can quickly monitor for any questionable activity.
Certain banks offer specialized cards for internet shopping. Configure your card to receive notifications or email alerts whenever your card is used to make a purchase. Always check out as a guest if feasible when making a transaction. Avoid creating accounts that will automatically save your information to a profile.
Avoid Conducting Financial Transactions Over Public Wi-Fi:
Public Wi-Fi is not secure for conducting any type of transaction. It exposes you to attackers, as these networks are frequently unencrypted. Thieves may loiter, waiting for unsuspecting victims to approach. They then gain access to your private financial data, account information, banking credentials, and other sensitive information.
Before initiating any transaction, verify that you are connected to a secure network. Nonetheless, you may utilize public wi-fi; however, you must use a VPN or virtual private network.
To accomplish this, you can use a suitable residential proxy to mask your IP address. Rather than displaying your actual IP address, a residential proxy will hide it and display a different one. It will act as a go-between for you and the internet. As a result, hackers will be unable to monitor your activities in order to keep your information protected from dishonest crooks.
Utilize Mobile Payment Applications:
Although the threat remains, it is highly improbable that your credit card will be skimmed. Using mobile app payments such as PayPal, Apple Pay, or Samsung Pay can help you defend against credit card fraud.
These applications take advantage of a process known as tokenization. They enable you to make payments without disclosing your actual credit account number. Even if your transaction information comes into the wrong hands, you remain protected.
Credit Card Security Is Critical:
Even if you exercise extreme caution, you may fall victim to scam. However, by always being cautious, you can minimize your danger of being assaulted. Maintain many weekly checks on your internet bank accounts.
Keep an eye out for any indications of fraudulent activity and report them. The sooner you act, the less financial and emotional damage you will sustain.
Annually reviewing your credit cards is critical to ensuring that all of your reports are in order. After 12 months, the majority of credit bureaus provide a free yearly report. Ascertain that all data in your report is accurate. A significant credit error might have a detrimental effect on your credit score.
Keep an eye out for newly established accounts that you may not be aware of. If you notice one, it may be an indication of credit card fraud or even identity theft.
Notify your bank whenever you relocate. This way, you’ll always get receipts and other correspondence at your new address.
Keep your operating system and other applications up to date at all times. Updates patch security holes, ensuring your safety. When you receive an update notification, download it immediately.
Always Keep an Eye out for Skimmers:
Credit card thieves steal your card information using a device called a skimmer. They hide these devices on fuel pumps and ATMs, then scan the data from the magnetic strip at the back of your credit card. Every time you pay for gas or use an ATM check out any signs of tampering. If possible, use an EMP chip credit card and not an ATM. Avoid any ATM site that might have alterations.
Create an Individual Password:
You need to create complex and unique passwords for your banking accounts. Don’t access several accounts using the same login information. An ideal and effective password is long with components of both uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols. Use memorable phrases that you won’t forget.
You might or might not have fallen victim to credit card theft. Either way, always be careful with your account details. Report any suspicious case of fraudsters, and don’t share your account password with just anyone. Lastly, take necessary measures to stay on the safe side.
How ID Theft Takes Place (and How to Safeguard Yourself)
Identity theft occurs when a person or group of people steals personally identifiable information such as your name, date of birth, social security number, address, and mother’s maiden name, among other things. Once they have this information, they will pose as you and use it to their advantage without your knowledge.
Recent technological advancements have made it simple to steal your identity. Individuals seeking your personally identifiable information will employ both technological and non-technological methods. The top five ways you could become a victim of identity fraud are listed below.
One of the most common sources of stolen identity information is data breaches, but we’ve written an entire article about them here.
Social engineering is a type of social engineering
When an individual or group of individuals decides to use malicious activities to psychologically manipulate someone and persuade him to reveal personal information, this is referred to as social engineering. First and foremost, the individual will investigate the victim in order to gather as much information as possible. This information will enable him to identify any weak points and other areas that can be exploited in order to gain the victim’s trust. To persuade the victim of their legitimacy, the perpetrator will direct the interactions and fully engage the victim. Once the victim believes they are legitimate, the perpetrator will ask for more information, which will be used to commit identity fraud.
To avoid becoming a victim of social engineering, keep your guard up at all times and follow these guidelines:
- Open emails or attachments from unknown senders.
- Be wary of enticing offers that appear to be too good to be true.
- Make use of multifactor authentication.
- Check that your antivirus software is up to date.
- Theft of a credit or debit card
Personal information on credit and debit cards can easily be used to commit identity fraud if they fall into the wrong hands. Using those details, one can easily open a bank account or obtain a new credit card. The new cards can then be used to make purchases and accumulate charges.
Use the following precautions to keep yourself safe:
In the signature panel on the back of the card, write the initials CID “See ID.” This will necessitate merchants requesting additional forms of identification before authorizing charges.
Every time you make a payment, keep your card in plain sight.
Before using your card on any site, learn how to identify genuine and secure sites.
Don’t give credit card information over the phone.
Attack on a man-in-the-middle
This type of attack occurs when an attacker intercepts communication between two parties by eavesdropping or altering the traffic. The attacker can then obtain sensitive information such as passwords and usernames, as well as personally identifiable information.
A man-in-the-middle attack allows the attacker to disrupt communication or create a bogus network to divert traffic to. The collected data is then screened for valuable information that could be used to steal your identity. Because it is carried out discreetly, this is a difficult attack to detect.
Use the following tips to spot any man in the middle of an attack:
Check your credit card statements on a regular basis to look for any unusual transactions or charges.
Always verify the legitimacy of any website you visit, especially those where you enter personal information.
Schemes of Phishing
A phishing attack occurs when an attacker sends misleading emails to potential victims in an attempt to trick them into providing personal information. The attacker will pose as a genuine person or institution seeking genuine person or institution seeking assistance or wishing to do business with the individual. Despite being one of the oldest cyber-attack methods, it remains one of the most widely used, and the techniques and messages have become more sophisticated. Phishing schemes include the following:
Vishing, also known as voice phishing, is a type of fraud. Instead of sending an email, the attacker calls the victim and pretends to be working for or representing a legitimate company or person. The attack’s main goal is to get the victim to reveal as much personal information as possible. In some cases, the victim will receive a robocall informing him that he has won something and must provide personal information before it is delivered.
Phishing through search engines
The attacker creates a website with absurdly low-cost offers. The website will be indexed by search engines such as Google and Yahoo, making it easier for it to appear in search results. Anyone who visits the website is rewarded with incentives and persuaded to provide personal information in order to take advantage of the offer.
The attacker will pose as a legitimate entity and send victims to spam text messages. The messages appear to be urgent, and the recipient is led to believe that if they do not take action by providing the requested information, they will suffer losses.
Phishing using malware
The attacker creates a malicious program that is disguised as a legitimate program. The program monitors everything you do on your computer and sends it to the attacker.
- To protect yourself from phishing attacks, follow these guidelines:
- Be cautious when downloading and installing software.
- Do not call unknown numbers back.
- Investigate every company that contacts you.
- In the address bar of websites, look for the padlock symbol.
- Personal item theft/dumpster diving/mail theft
The attacker can go through your trash in search of personally identifiable information that can be used to steal the individual’s identity. An individual’s mail or personal items may be stolen in some cases. Depending on what was stolen, the attacker may be able to use the information obtained to steal the person’s identity.
To protect yourself, follow these guidelines:
- Secure your mailbox.
- Shred everything in such a way that it is impossible to read anything.
- If your credit card has been stolen, you must notify the credit card company immediately.
Find out more about how to protect your credit from credit fraud!
How to Protect Yourself from Identity Theft
You can’t ignore the dangers of identity theft in the digital age. Online management of financial resources has made consumers more vulnerable to hackers and imposters. According to a statement by the Insurance Information Institute, 16.7 million cases of identity theft were reported in 2017. These numbers are not going to decrease any time soon. 30% of US consumers experienced a data breach last year. The US government and consumers should work together to curb the rising crime of identity theft.
What is Modern Day ID Theft?
A data breach or identity theft is an illegal attempt to use someone else’s credentials for fraudulent activities. The US government recognizes identity theft as a Federal crime. Anyone found guilty of identity theft in the US could face jail time of 1-7 years. Identity theft has become a grave concern for consumers. The Consumer Sentinel Network maintains a record of consumer fraud and identity theft in the US. According to them, they received 3 million complaints in 2018 related to identity theft and fraud.
How does Identity Theft Work?
Thieves steal personal data from consumers through various tricks. These tricks range from acquiring bank statements from the mailbox to hacking and online scams. This information gives the thieves access to financial and social accounts of the victims. They use the compromised credentials to gain access to financial accounts.
What is The Use of Stolen Identities
Theives have the intention of using the breached information for fraudulent activities. Imposters use compromised data in the following events.
- Opening of new financial accounts
- Getting access to the existing financial accounts
- Insurance fraud
- Online shopping from victim’s account
- Selling victim’s information in the Black Net
- Using the victim’s identity in criminal activities
Protection from Identity Theft
Identity theft brings a string of interconnected losses and disappointments for victims and their families. It is better to take preventative measures beforehand to protect your data from identity thieves. Identity protection aims to add a series of complicated steps in getting personal information. Remember that identity thieves alway seek easy targets. Anything that does not play by their rules discourages them. You can strategically protect your data by taking these steps.
Use Strong and Different Passwords
Unprotected houses are always robbed first of their valuable items. Similarly, a computer or financial accounts without a strong password attracts identity thieves. A survey report by Experian states that 50% of total US citizens do not add password protection to their digital devices. Lack of password protection makes people an easy target for identity theft.
Moreover, do not make the mistake of using a single password for all of your social and financial accounts. Imposters are going to try their luck on each of your accounts. That is why using different passwords ensures safety to your accounts.
Maintain a Record of Your Financial Activities
Your bank accounts and e-wallets contain your wealth; leaving their activities unrecorded is not a wise move. It is a little difficult for anyone to remember all of their transactions. However, maintaining a record is essential for the protection of your data, and it doesn’t take a lot of time if maintained regularly.
Identity thieves do not make big moves initially. They make gradual advances to take over your financial accounts. A single suspicious transaction can give you a clue of possible theft of your identity.
Avoid Clicking on Malicious Links
Thieves lure their targets by sending them malicious links in emails and text messages. Breached data gives the hackers control of most of your existing accounts. They can also order new services for them by using your name and money. Never enter your login or bank details to an insecure site. Doing so can make access to your information easy for hackers.
Never Give Away Sensitive Information About Your Financial Accounts On Phone Calls
A call from customer service asking for your PIN Code or social security number is an alarm bell. Nowadays, banks educate consumers to avoid giving login details to anyone on a call. A true representative of your financial institution will never ask sensitive information about your financial accounts.
Thieves seeking information pretend to be part of financial institutions. In the case of getting a suspicious call contact your financial institution and report the suspicious call.
Protect Your Documents with Personal Details
Do not leave hard copies of bank statements and credit card details in your mailbox because ID thieves do not spare your mailbox. For tackling mailbox theft, you can instruct your bank to send soft copies of your bank statements. Moreover, by using the option of particular instructions, you can also fix the delivery time of your documents. In short, never give a chance to the thieves to steal away your information.
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