Identity Theft is when a person is able to gain access to your personal data and have gotten that by fraudulent means, it is used to perpetuate crime using the name and information of the original person. Such crimes are mostly financial and they come in several ways ranging from taking loans in your name, buying items off your credit cards, withdrawing funds from your accounts and several other unimaginable things in your name. Some even go as far as committing crimes and felonies in your name, while impersonating you.
This form of illegal activity is so commonly practised that about 12 million people fall victim of this in the US alone yearly to the tune of about $26 billion. It’s just alarming to know that most victims cannot precisely tell you of how the criminals got their confidential data.
WAYS TO COMBAT THIS MENACE
It is often a very tedious process to handle the crisis after the theft has occurred, so we will do better to concentrate on the preventive note. Measures taken to prevent this ugly incidence can be sub-divided into two major forms, The Online and Physical forms. We will be concentrating more on the online prevention since that is where most of the crime is perpetuated.
ONLINE METHOD OF PREVENTION
Be on the lookout for phishing
Although phishing is quite an old technique of scamming, its still as effective as it has always been, except that the users have refined a bit on the techniques and that has made it more subtle than before. This occurs to people who shop online and use their e-mails to work and are regular on social networks. Its advisable to be a bit careful when using these tools.
Be careful of online shopping
When next you want to make an option of where to shop online, go for the very credible e-commerce sites that are trustworthy. Be sure that the connection to the web page is encrypted by checking whether there is a green lock icon next to the address bar and the URL begins with HTTPS not HTTP. Use alternatives where you will receive secret codes on your phone before completion of an order. It’s also advisable to use a separate card for online transactions, all you need do is to transfer the right amount to that account anytime you want to buy anything.
Use strong passwords
For any online account, it would pay you to use passwords of 10 characters long. Don’t use passwords that are easily known, make a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols. do not attempt to use familiar names as passwords, it makes it easy to guess. Try as much not to use the same passwords for different accounts, you could employ the use of a password manager to keep tabs on your passwords. If necessary, enable multi-factor authentication.
Make sure your OS and Software are up to date
As Ordinary as this sounds, it’s so essential to avoiding identity theft. We must ensure that we run system updates and third-party software updates regularly. Thes updates contain patches of security vulnerabilities and other functional improvements, this gives an extra layer of protection.
Make use of security software that is reliable
These cybercriminals have a portfolio of malicious instruments. You will find remote administration tools, exploit kits, keyloggers, and spyware. These criminals can use these tools to retrieve your personal data without your awareness. several antiviruses are not able to detect these tools, so put up your best in using the best security that will detect the slightest malware and threats.
Be careful of what you post Online
Don’t include information about yourself in posts on social media, your blogs and public sources. The information you put out that way tells the public much about your private life and present location, this could be used against you as it has almost every bit of information needed to impersonate you.
Monitor the use of your browser
Make use of updates on your browsers as soon as you notice them, this helps to cover up all recent vulnerability in your browser. Whenever you have to use a public computer, make use of a private window that won’t store your passwords and login details. Consider using Tor Browser or VPN (Virtual Private Network) software to anonymize your Internet traffic.