Online Identity Theft: Protection Measures Cherished by Smart Internet Surfers

Modern day technology has digitized every aspect of life, from entertainment, information gathering, shopping online, to in-store card swiping, online bill payments, to online banking etc.

But, like every other advanced thing there is a risk lurking in the shadows commonly known as online identity theft and cyber-crime. An open cyber gateway attracts miscreants/fraudsters who get hold of your PII (personally identifiable information) and then commit fraud.

How does identity theft cyber crime occur?

Now that you know what is identity theft online, let’s explore how does cyber identity theft happen.

  1. Fraudsters spread the spyware through emails or links in SMS/other messaging apps. When you open it on your computer or mobile browser, your device gets infected and the virus runs to collect your information.
  2. Your login credentials saved on the browser with the computer/mobile device is collected and gets transmitted to criminals afterwards.
  3. Then the miscreants misuse your information for unauthorized access to services or carry out illegal work.

The most common modes of cyber identity theft are through phishing, framing, unsecure websites, malicious software, weak passwords, discarded gadgets like mobiles, computers or tablets etc. even miscreants target young children and befriend them to ask personal details, which they would divulge online and pose a threat to safety.

You can prevent online identity theft by tightening your online security measure and educating your children about the risk involved in interacting with strangers online.

online identity theft: prevent identity theft cyber crime

5 protection measures to prevent online identity theft

You need to be alert in order to protect identity online and keep your family safe from these miscreants. We have gathered a list of tips for keeping you and your PII safe from any potential danger originating out of identity theft or cyber-crime.

Use a VPN for online protection

In order to protect your identity online, it is recommended to use a VPN while transacting online. A VPN (Virtual Private Network) is a secured network that allows you to browse and transact website without revealing your identity to others over the internet.

  • You get a scalable, secure and fast network to use the internet for your needs.
  • Through a VPN your information exchange occurs in encrypted formats, which is impossible for miscreants to read.
  • Shopping from overseas online sites, routing through international servers, and accessing public Wi-Fi hotspots in a secure way is possible using a VPN.
  • It keeps your identity anonymous and allows you a secure gateway to browse the internet.

NordVPN is one of best VPN services recommended by many users.

This service can also accommodate multiple device protection at a time, offer controlling web traffic through mobile apps, intuitive services for Windows and Mac systems, and let you download proxy extensions for Firefox or Chrome as well.

Just give it a try.

identity theft cyber crime: use a vpn to protect

Take care of free software and file sharing software online

If you are thinking how to protect your identity online, then you need to first pay attention to file sharing software and free software found online.

These software applications sometimes have malwares attached with them and when you get them to avoid paying extra bucks for a similar software, they rip your identity to shreds by their wrong deeds. Always ensure to buy or download only authentic programs online.

online identity theft: beware if freeware

Do not open questionable websites, mails, messages, etc.

When you go through dubious mails, websites, or messages, your data is exposed to unsolicited people over the internet. You can protect your identity online by being extra careful about what and when to divulge to whom.

Steer clear of tempting and intriguing offers over the web. Unless you completely rely a website after verifying its credentials, don’t share or register with it.

Don’t click any link over there and lose your precious data like the PII. Don’t trust the ‘You won this million-dollar lottery from XYZ company’ emails and run to enter your address or phone number/email to them. Mark them spam and report it to prevent any loss.

online identity theft: malicious sites

Try not to use identity, financial, private information online

Avoid using the identity, financial, or private infomation during online transactions over dubious websites. The online identity theft statistics worldwide comprises of mistaken websites broadly.

People fall prey to identical looking websites and by the time they enter their personal details and hit enter, their accounts are swiped clean of any cash. Look for trusted official apps and banking apps. Ensure that the banking sites’ ‘https’ link is used for all transactions.

For banking transactions never save your settings or passwords with the browser on a personal or public computer.

Complex your passwords

It is recommended to keep complex passwords with a mix of lower and uppercase letters, special characters, and numbers.

Never associate it with birthday/anniversary/your name or a family member’s name. A complex but easy to remember password is tough to be guessed by others.

So, even when you lose your credit/debit card the person can’t guess the password to transact online or withdraw cash. You can protect your identity online and prevent frauds by frequently changing the password and keeping different password for different accounts.

online identity theft: try complex passcodes

Baits of online identity theft

As we have already discussed the modes of internet identity theft here is exploring about them in detail in order to protect your identity online.

Spyware

Spyware is a malicious software that lures you to download malware and then infringe your computer/mobile phone to obtain PII and then before you even realize the damage has been done already.

The personal information is shared with fraudsters and makes you vulnerable to identity thieves online. Ensure to buy antivirus software for protecting your system from online attacks and maintain the computer by updating the OS regularly.

Unsecure websites

Purchasing online or transacting over unsecured internet connection may weigh heavily on you, concerning the online safety of your data. Make sure that the apps you are using to make purchases or carrying out banking transactions is the official ones from your bank or seller.

For banking transactions its highly recommended to use nothing but the sites with a ‘https’ prefix to them. To protect identity online, ensure deterring the fraudsters by avoiding unsecure websites.

online identity theft: watch out the unsecure sites

Phishing

Unsolicited online requests and emails sent by cybercriminals on the pretext of being from a bank or other reliable organization target to obtain your PII.

If you are not well aware, you might tap a link and key in your PII and lose your precious personal data in the blink of an eye. You should never open email, attachments or anything dubious.

Always ensure to type the bank’s information on the web browser and rather than following any link in the email to avoid cyber identity theft.

online identity theft: delete phishing emails

Hacking

Experienced hackers commit identity theft and cybercrime using malwares like keylogger.

These programs track every key press and send the information to the hacker, allowing him/her your personal details and login credentials. Malwares are other types of hacking tools to snatch your identity and then do whatever they want.

These hackers can steal your frequent flyer miles, health insurance, commit crimes in your name, hack the chat system of your company, and even impersonate you by taking over your social media accounts.

Trapping the young or elderly online

Kids and the elderly are unaware of the threats online. If you are worried about how to prevent identity theft online, a basic part of it covers educating your children and grand parents.

Tell them it’s unsafe to divulge family details, revealing PII, or sharing their social media account or phone number to unknown people. They might be over the internet and get befriended by someone and giveaway too much information that would be a risk to them, you or the elderly people at home.

Monitor the pages or sites the kids are visiting and even the elderly in your house.

online identity theft: protect the young and elderly

Signs that you may fall victim to online identity theft

You should look for these warning signs to know that you are a victim of internet identity theft.

Dubious transactions from your credit card or bank account

If your bank or credit card statement carries huge sums of unknown transactions, or you have received an email about a transaction being done (which you have no idea about) then it’s time to protect your identity online.

Confusing clueless debts

An identity thief can make online transactions on your name and steal money to pump their own accounts. When you know of weird debts in your name from strange firms or companies that you don’t have a clue. Your PII is stolen and used to take loans on your behalf by fraudulent people.

Bills for services you never used

Instances of identity theft and cybercrime also include bills for services you never availed. When you are back from a holiday and get a car repair bill during the time out or a health insurance claimed when you are perfectly healthy. Make sure to report this to the local police and the company who sent those bills to get help.

Police called you for nonexistent charges

Criminals might frame you with cyber identity theft and you get charged or fined for crimes that you have never committed. They do the dirty work and the police has your records leading to the crime. Patiently explain to the police what exactly has happened with you for not being wrongly charged.

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Wondershare Editor

Jul 17,2018 15:09 pm / Posted by Selena Lee to VPN

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