Identity theft or identity fraud is when someone impersonates you using your personal information to commit fraud or obtain other financial advantages. Your name, residential address, email ID, login and passwords, Social Security number, driver’s license number, passport number, or bank number are your personally identifiable information. Once someone into online identity theft gets this information, they might sell it on the dark web or use it to steal people’s identities.
There are numerous ways for ID fraud to get your personal information, including overhearing you on the phone, reading out your credit card number, purchasing your information on the dark web after a data breach, and other methods. The next step in the identity theft process is using that data.
How identity theft occurs
There are several types of identity theft by which identity thieves may access your personal information. Here are some:
Cybercriminals send emails or SMS that appear to be authentic. These emails or texts may contain harmful links. The program can mine your computer and even leak data. Cybercriminals use such information to steal or sell identities on the dark web. One should never open emails that seem questionable. Also, do not click on any unknown links or download any file from an unknown sender.
2. Wi-Fi espionage
Unsecured public Wi-Fi connections might offer thieves access to the information moving to and from your device. Cybercriminals might be able to track your device and infest it with malware. This will, in turn, give them access to valuable data.
Sometimes online thieves make Wi-Fi hotspots with various names that look like an original or authentic network. Identity thieves might be able to see and use the data passing through the malicious network. Before connecting, always double-check the spelling of the network name.
How identity theft affects you
Few people are psychologically ready to handle the effects of fraud ID scams. Victims of identity fraud may experience overwhelming psychological agony from loss, powerlessness, hatred, loneliness, betrayal, and even embarrassment.
After a financial theft, your ability to obtain a loan, maintain a rental or secure a job could all be at risk due to this crime. Please know that if you are the leading provider for the family, you have not failed them. You are an innocent victim.
Finally, you can become irritated with the people you turn to for assistance. The legal system still needs some work, and identity theft is a challenging crime to solve. Be kind to both yourself and those who are trying to assist you.
How to prevent identity fraud
There isn’t a foolproof method to stop identity fraud, and monitoring services only inform you of problems after they occur. However, the following is a list of significant steps you can take to hinder identity thieves:
1. Lock up your credit.
Your credit can be frozen with all three leading credit agencies, Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion, which limits access to information and prevents opening new credit files. The best defense against identity thieves utilizing your data to register new accounts is to freeze your credit, which you can do for free, and unfreeze it when you wish to start a new account.
2. Keep your Social Security number private.
The master key to your personal information is your Social Security number. Guard it as best you can. Ask why your number is required and how it will be protected when you are requested to provide it. Don’t bring your card along. Documents containing your Social Security number should be kept safely or shredded.
3. Passwords should be strong, and authentication should be included.
Create and save complicated, one-of-a-kind passwords for your accounts using a password manager. Keep passwords unique. An authenticator app can help you minimize your risk. One can easily find the names of your pet and your mother’s maiden name, so don’t rely on security questions to keep your accounts safe. Be careful what you post on social media to avoid disclosing important information or hints about how you respond to security questions.
Anyone can become a victim of identity theft. Therefore it’s critical to take the recommended precautions. Seniors and college students should exercise extra caution regarding identity theft because these groups make easy targets for thieves.
While those who use shared computers are likewise at risk, everyone in today’s society has the potential to be vulnerable. However, people become more irresponsible when they handle personal information carelessly and ignore warning indications. Long-term effects of identity theft may hurt victims individually and negatively impact businesses and the economy.
Identity theft victims frequently experience wrath, fear, insecurity, anxiety, and even melancholy when the initial shock wears off.
What if you are aware of the identity thief?
If you contact your creditors and assure them that you are not liable for any new accounts opened in your name or charges made using them without your consent, they can ask to see a copy of your police report.
How long can identity fraud recovery take?
The recovery period for identity fraud can vary significantly depending on the type of fraud.