Identity theft is the new scourge of society. No longer should you concentrate on watching your wallets. Now, identity fraud is most prominent via virtual means. In other words, you’ll never see the person who is abusing your identity for their own personal gain.
Just to give you an insight into how regularly online identity theft happens, the 2012 Identity Fraud Report: Social Media and Mobile Forming the New Fraud Frontier by Javelin Strategy & Research highlighted how 11.6 million adults become a victim of fraud every year in the United States. This is at least once every three seconds. And it’s why it’s more important than ever to protect your identity online.
When Fraudsters go Phishing
Emails are still a fraudster’s main hunting grounds. They create an email account and attempt to mimic a genuine email from a popular company or agency. This can include anything from games companies attempting to tell you about an online subscription to PayPal ironically informing you about an attack on your account.
Click the email (you can’t get infected by just opening the message) and look at what they’re asking. Hover over any links to see where they go. If they don’t go to the genuine website, you know it’s an attempt at stealing your identity. To get to a site to check if there’s a real problem, avoid clicking any links sent to you.
Virtual Private Networks (VPN) to the Rescue
When you share information across a public network, any other computer on this network can retrieve this information. All it takes is some rudimentary computing knowledge. Avoid this by investing in a VPN. This transforms each public server into a private server. Essentially, it withholds your information from the network. By using a VPN in an internet cafe for example, you don’t have to worry about accidentally revealing a piece of crucial personal information.
Scammers can steal your identity through impersonating your friends. Taking control of an email account gives them access to contacts list. Investigate every link you receive, even if it’s from someone you know. Never rule out the possibility of someone impersonating one of your contacts.
And the same applies to many prominent websites. Receiving an email from them can contain hidden malware. It’s not their fault; it’s a fraudster who has managed to work their way into their systems. The crucial thing is to never let your guard down. If you don’t let your guard down there’s no chance of you becoming one of the eleven and a half million victims of online identity theft.
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