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What is identity theft and how can you avoid it

Shubham Sharma

What is identity theft and how can you avoid it

15 Apr 2019: What is identity theft and how can you avoid it

With the insane amount of information we share online, it's pertinent to mention the risk of identity theft or the case when a fraudster steals another person's identity to commit fraud on their name.

Such crimes have been committed before, but now criminals are leveraging the internet's power to get hold of personal information and exploit it.

Here are some ways to avoid it.

Attack: How identity is stolen?

We share a ton of information online, including our names, addresses, emails, Aadhaar card numbers, PAN card numbers, bank account numbers, etc.

The data usually remains secure, but sometimes lapses in security can result in the information being leaked on the internet.

It can then go into dark web marketplaces where fraudsters can pay cheap prices to get hold of your details.

Fact: They can also use phishing and malware attacks

While dark web marketplaces offer personal data in bulk, attackers can even use sophisticated phishing and malware-based attacks to grt hold of your personal information, Notably, they can even stalk your profile/phone or social engineer you into giving away personal/confidential details.

Importance: Why you should care about your information being compromised

Identity theft might not seem like a major issue, but you should note that this specific crime is the one that leads to financial fraud.

Basically, with your personal information, an attacker could impersonate you and commit crimes on your name.

They could use your credit card, apply for a new one, or get a connection/product/service you never applied for among many other things.

Fact: Also, there's the risk of social crimes

Along with this, it is also worth noting that a bad actor could use your name and photo to create a fake profile on social media. This way, they can act out, harass women, and commit other heinous crimes on your name.

Prevention #1: Never keep your information public

Now that you know the risk of identity theft, we recommend keeping every piece of information private, be it on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

This can keep malicious attackers from accessing your personal details for creating fake accounts or for carrying out social engineering-based attacks.

Also, don't accept requests from people you don't know as they might have bad intentions.

Prevention #2: Never give away your information on call

Along with keeping profiles secure, never give away your personal details to any person claiming to be from a bank or any popular brand.

Companies or financial institutions never ask for information on a call, which means any such call you receive could be an attempt to steal your data.

They could offer rewards or warn about expiring services, but don't fall for it.

Prevention #3: Handle important documents carefully

You should also keep important documents safe at a place where no one except you or the people you trust could access them.

Also, don't forget to shred correspondence from banks and other institutions before throwing away.

Such documents (like canceled cheques or insurance papers) could hold crucial personal information that may get into the hands of outsiders from the bin.

Prevention #4: Use personal devices carefully

Smartphones and laptops hold a ton of personal and financial information, and hence it is important to keep them protected.

Thus, as a rule of thumb, never enter your login-passwords in public for any service, and make sure all the confidential data is password-protected.

This way, no one can access your information even when they have your phone.

Prevention #5: Finally, watch out for malware and phishing

Some crafty attackers can even conduct malware and phishing-based attacks to nab your personal details.

Now, some malware programs can be difficult to fend off but a reliable anti-virus program can protect you against most attacks.

Additionally, never click on any suspicious links and use only official sites to log into services like Netflix or your personal banking account.