Along with the benefits of better technology and faster ways of communicating, providing information and services online, comes the huge risk of identity theft. This trend of white collar crimes has been in full effect for several years and has progressively increased in numbers of cases as more and more people find new ways of obtaining and providing information.
Why do bad things happen to good people?
It really isn’t that hard to steal someone’s identity and most people are not always proactive about protecting personal information, making them perfect candidates for identity theft. Good people are often too trusting and naive, but you don’t have to have these personality traits to become a victim, it can happen to anyone and it can lead to serious financial problems including personal bankruptcy.
How does identity theft happen and how do you prevent it?
I am listing here some of the most common ways a thief gets access to your information and you will most likely begin to think about the many times you may have contributed to increasing the likelihood of this happening to you Download Aadhar Card by Name.
1. Online Phishing Scams– one of the most common and still very effective methods. When you are contacted via email or phone by someone asking you to “verify” specific information related to your credit card, pay pal or bank account, they are phishing. No credit card company or bank will EVER contact you asking you for any information about your account over the phone or via email. They know there’s a lot of risk in doing this. PayPal, (an eBay company) also does not practice this. Yet there are tons of spam emails in millions of inboxes asking for this information and very often the information is provided by people who are led to believe that these are legitimate requests.
One method closely related to phishing is getting that call that says you’ve won a prize, they’re usually really excited and they try hard to get you excited about the bogus prize. Once they get you to that level, they’ll ask for your bank account so they can deposit your winnings for you. You kindly provide the info and wait for the prize money to post, only to find out that you’ve just given the thief a prize. This one has not gotten old yet, it still works.
2. Online hackers – if you’re online a lot you probably have learned a few ways to protect yourself from computer hacks. This is still a growing trend today. Many online users do not make use of the necessary technologies to protect their computer systems. Virus software and firewall software should be used on every PC you own to properly protect your identity while you’re online. Hackers are very resourceful individuals and they know how to get into some of the most secure sites in the world so your Dell PC running Widows XP or Vista is no big challenge if they want to get in bad enough. If you’re used to keeping files with credit card and bank account information on your system they can easily be found and taken.
3. Credit card offers – this is something that highly contributes to the chances of you becoming a victim. Credit card companies are in business for money and nothing else. Any protection they are likely to extend to you for a monthly fee is in fact useless as far as your total identity theft protection goes. If a credit card company receives an application with all your personal information, they will process the application after checking your credit and send you the approved card shortly after. Anyone with your information can make this request and with the convenience of the internet it’s even easier.
To opt out of credit card offers you can do a search for “opt out of credit card offers” and you’ll get a few reliable sources where you need to provide your information for this to happen. You can do this for a time limit or permanently. Always use caution when you provide this information online, make sure the “lock” icon shows up near the status bar of your browser, this means that the information you’re about to provide will be encrypted and protected.
4. Old browsers – if you are still running windows ME, ’98 or God forbid ’95 for some reason, then you’re probably using a very outdated version of Internet Explorer. If that’s the case, you’re not only at risk you’re asking for it. Older browsers have serious vulnerabilities that have been corrected in the more recent versions, so if this is you, fix it immediately. Whether you use IE, Firefox or Opera, always update your browsers to the newer versions when they’re released since the security features are often updated. Firefox and Opera in particular pay special emphasis to security and make it a little easier to protect your identity.
5. Your wallet and your purse – how much information do you carry with you? Are you one of those people with a burrito size wallet full of receipts, notes, credit cards, membership cards, contact and other sensitive information? What would happen if you lost your wallet of purse with all of this information in it? It would probably take you more than a few hours to notify every credit card company that you have lost your cards. But how do you know if you have covered yourself enough. Some people even carry their kids’ social security numbers in their wallets as well. Children can easily become victims of identity theft as well, their financial lives could be ruined before they even start them.
6. Shred your old information – shredders are not expensive, invest in one at once. Never put your old bank account statements or credit card bills in the trash bin. One method of identity theft that is still effective today is known as dumpster diving, where a willing thief digs through trash to find usable information to get an easy payday. This information can be used to access your accounts and you may have just made somebody’s day by making it available to them. Get in the habit of shredding everything.
7. Spam and pirated software – You should never open spam email, these are emails from sources you do not recognize, and often your web mail account will automatically filter. But for those that make their way into your inbox, you should always delete. Also never download, or accept pirated software no matter how cool the application is. The code on the software has been modified so that it can install without a product key, meaning that the hacker has also been able to add code that can record your activities. These are called keyboard logging programs, which run in the background and you never know about. Once your typing has been recorded the program will send the information to the hacker who can use that information to get access to account logins with your passwords into your credit card or bank account.
Even when you take all these precautions, identity theft can still happen. These are only some of the most common ways identities are stolen. Thieves are becoming more and more creative with their scams, and know that their methods only work for so long and so they’re constantly coming up with new ways of getting to your information. It’s because of these unknown methods that no one can be truly safe.
There are ways to protect your identity against identity theft, but most of these are merely monitoring services that are offered through sponsored programs run by the three credit bureaus. These programs have certain guarantees but basically what the service does for you is notify you of suspicious events on your credit. Meaning that they notify you when something has occurred, and this is your queue to take action and stop the illegal activity.
A more advanced method of protecting your identity is to have a complete service for identity theft protection that not only monitors your credit activity but stops new account from being opened under your name and SSN. These are more specialized services and they offer advanced features that you simply can not implement on your own.