What we'll talk about
- What are the potential risks involved in giving out your personal details to a scammer?
- Phone Number
- Social Security Number
- Bank Information
- Credit Card Number
- Name and Address
- Date Of Birth
- Email Address
- How to check if someone is using my identity?
- What to do if you have been victimized by a scammer?
- 9 Tips on how to secure your personal information to avoid scammers
Are you worried because you accidentally gave out your personal information to a scammer?
This happens to a lot of people. Maybe you entered your info in a malicious website, responded to an email scam, mistakenly believed that the person on the phone was really from the bank, or maybe you were chatting with someone you thought you knew.
Whatever the circumstance you’re in, it’s important for you to stay vigilant and take the necessary steps to ensure that you can protect yourself in case somebody uses your information deceptively or causes harm.
By giving out your personal information, you open yourself up to several risks. In this article, we will discuss the different threats involved when your personal details are compromised.
We will also talk about the steps you can take to resolve the problem and how to protect yourself from this happening to you again using vigilance and reputable identity protection tools such as Aura.
What are the potential risks involved in giving out your personal details to a scammer?
There are numerous risks involved when your personal information falls into the wrong hands. What exactly could be done by the wrongdoers will depend on the type of info you have given out and how much you disclosed.
The primary risk is being a victim of identity theft. Identity theft takes place when another person uses your identity to commit fraud. Identity thieves can use your identity to steal money from you by using your credit cards, accessing your financial accounts, or claiming your tax refund.
They can also use your identity to commit a crime, get medical benefits, or be employed.
Aside from identity theft, there are some other risks that could take place depending on the amount of information you gave out.
If you’ve accidentally given out your personal information to a scammer, you can set up identity theft protection with Aura. They have SSN monitoring, scan and monitor your essential financial reports for suspicious activity, and they’ll help you recover from any identity theft.
In case you’ve already given out your personal info, they’ll help you:
- Conduct 24/7 SSN Monitoring
- Monitor the dark web for people selling your personal information, and alerting you if anything appears.
- Monitor your credit reports (fraud usually shows up on your credit reports and ruins your credit)
- A personal case manager that can help you recover from any identity theft problems.
You’ll also get a $1M insurance policy and stolen funds reimbursement. This means that your financial situation will remain SAFE EVEN IF fraudsters have your personal information (they won’t be able to get away with it).
Let’s take a closer look at what scammers can do with different types of personal information.
If you accidentally gave your phone number to a scammer, there are two scenarios that could possibly happen: The first is when the scammer knows your name and phone number and the second when the scammer actually has access to your phone number.
The first scenario is not as threatening as the second scenario but there are still potential dangers.
You might not be worried about giving out your name and phone number because these are usually public details that can be found in a phone book or business cards.
However, just because these details are available publicly does not mean that you should be complacent about giving your full name and phone number to just anyone. You may never know if you’ve accidentally given your phone number to a scammer who will exploit your information.
Stalking is just one of the risks that you could encounter when you give out your full name and phone number online.
For example, if you are chatting with a stranger you just met through a social networking site or a dating application, don’t give your full name and phone number out too easily because that person could start calling you up and even track you down through your phone number. The common victims of stalking are minors and females who get stalked by the people they meet online.
What if the person has access to your name and phone number? This usually happens when your phone gets stolen.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of risks involved because the person who has access to your phone number can use it to access your online and financial accounts by resetting your password. Most of these accounts now use a two-factor authentication process which is often linked to your phone number so if someone has access to your phone number, resetting your passwords can be done.
What to do if a scammer has your phone number
Here are a few things you can do if someone is exploiting your phone number for malicious purposes.
- Take steps to stop scammers from calling you with scam calls by blocking the number and reporting their caller ID to the Federal Trade Commission by calling 1-877-382-4357 (TTY: 1-866-653-4261).
- A phone number can be used to log into certain online accounts. A scammer may try to use your phone number to hack your accounts if they have it. In order to protect your accounts, you can request that your login method be changed to a more secure one by contacting the customer service representative of the platform.
- To ensure all your personal login information is secure, consider using reputable password managers to create secure passwords and get alerts if your passwords are ever compromised.
- You can prevent scammers from exploiting your phone number by contacting your phone provider and requesting a number change. This is the only sure-fire way to ensure your phone number won’t be exploited.
Social Security Number
If someone who’s not trustworthy gets hold of your Social Security Number, there are a number of ways that person can misuse your SSN. Below are just some of the following things that can be done with just your Social Security Number.
- Your Social Security Number can be used to open a new bank account and that person can open credit cards on that account without paying back the debt. This could damage your credit score.
- Your SSN could be used for employee-related identity fraud, where another person not authorized to work in the US could use your number to get employed.
- Your SSN could be used to commit a crime by giving your number to law enforcers if they are caught and you could have a criminal activity record under your name.
- The scammer could use your SSN to get your tax refund.
- Your SSN could be used to claim medical benefits and this could taint your personal medical records.
What to do if you gave your Social Security Number to a scammer
- Ensure you report the scam or fraud to the SSA (Social Security Administration) at https://oig.ssa.gov/report/
- Monitor your credit report and bank transaction statements for any suspicious activities and transactions that you did not make
- Immediately notify the three credit bureaus of the potential exposure and freeze your credit. If you freeze your credit, no organization will be able to access your report, which means scammers won’t be able to open a new account in your name. It is completely free to freeze your credit.
- Use an identity monitoring tool to be alerted when someone has fraudulently used your SSN.
As an effective way to ensure a scammer hasn’t exploited your Social Security Number, both identitytheft.gov and usa.gov recommend monitoring your financial accounts, credit reports and freezing your credit reports.
In our experience, we found it extremely time consuming and tedious to do on our own. In order to address this problem, we researched solutions for this. After numerous tests, comparisons, and reviews, with Aura, we were able to maintain 24/7 monitoring over our social security number, financial accounts, and credit reports way more efficiently.
To further protect you in case you’ve already given out your personal info, Aura also provides:
- Consistent monitoring of your SSN for people using your security number
- Freezing your credit with one click to prevent loans from being taken in your name
- A personal case manager and 24/7 support to help you recover from any identity theft problems.
Users will also get a $1M insurance policy and stolen funds reimbursement ensuring the safety of our finances incase a scammer got hold of our financial accounts
If you gave your bank information to a scammer, the severity of the scam they can perform depends on what other information they may have. If someone ONLY has your bank account number, they won’t be able to do much damage with it.
Combined with your other personal information, however, they WILL be able to commit financial fraud against you.
The main scams that someone can perform with your bank information would be ACH fraud and check frauds.
ACH (Automated Clearing House) fraud occurs when someone sets up an ACH payment using your 1bank number and 2routing number. When an ACH payment is set up, scammers will be able to purchase items and even send money through participating platforms. Some platforms that allow ACH payments include Venmo, Paypal, and Amazon.
Check frauds can occur when a scammer impersonates you in order to get checks under your name. If a scammer has your bank information and your other personal information, there is always a chance that a scammer may call up your bank and order checks under your name after providing your verification details. So if a scammer has your bank number and verification details (such as your full name, residential address or security question answers), you could be in trouble.
1 Bank Account Number: Your bank account number is the number assigned to you when you open a bank account. Bank account number is unique to you.
2 Routing Number: A nine-digit code to identify the financial institution where you opened your account.
What to do if a scammer has your bank information
- Report the fraud to the FTC at www.reportfraud.ftc.gov
- Diligently monitor your bank account for any transactions you don’t recognize. If an unknown transaction is listed in your charges, contact your bank right away.
- Notify your bank if you suspect a scammer has your bank information and inform them of any unknown transactions. Thankfully, your bank will normally not hold you responsible if you contact them within 60 days of the transaction.
Credit Card Number
A total of 389,737 credit card fraud cases were reported in the Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book in 2021, making it the second most common type of identity theft fraud in the USA.
Typically, scammers will use your credit card details to go on spending sprees and maximize your spending limit before discarding the card.
While some banks require multi-step authentication for purchases to go through, there are other systems where these additional security measures are not required which allows scammers to exploit your card.
In some cases, scammers may even sell your credit card information on the dark web. These scams usually require scammers to compile tons of credit card details to get money for hundreds of credit card details simultaneously.
What to do if a scammer has your credit card number
- Diligently monitor your bank statement for any transactions you don’t recognize. If an unknown transaction is listed in your charges, contact your bank right away.
- Notify your bank if you suspect a scammer has your credit card information and cancel your credit cards right away.
- Inform your banks and credit unions of any unknown transactions. Remember, your bank will usually not hold you responsible if you contact them within 60 days of the transaction, so the sooner you catch a fraudulent transaction, the better.
- Use dark web monitoring tools to monitor the use of your credit card information
- Be sure to report the fraud to the FTC at www.reportfraud.ftc.gov/
Name and Address
If you gave a scammer your name and address, they won’t be able to do much with just these two details. They are, after all, publicly available information.
However, the problem arises when scammers use your name and address as an opportunity to send you fraudulent mail by impersonating a government official or corporation in order to lure you into various mail scams.
These mail scams can range anywhere from fake sweepstakes to letters claiming you have lost mail. In these fraudulent mails, scammers will try to gain more personal information from you, which they can then use to further exploit you.
What to do if you gave a scammer your name and address
- If you know where the scam came from, do your part by reporting the fraud to the FTC at www.reportfraud.ftc.gov
- Educate yourself on the various mail scams out there to ensure you never fall prey to these scams.
- Never give out your personal information when you receive a questionable letter. Whether it’s a warning letter or a letter threatening your safety, you must be vigilant in vetting your mail. Contact the corporation via their official contact information online and NOT using the contact information on the physical letter you receive.
- Use a monitoring tool to scan the web for breach of your personal information to ensure none of your personal information has been compromised.
Date Of Birth
There isn’t much a scammer can do with JUST your name and date of birth.
However, if you gave a scammer your date of birth and other personal information of yours, there are a few things you should be aware of to be safe.
Firstly, according to a Google poll, 59% of users use significant dates as their passwords. If you’ve used your date of birth as your password, your online accounts are now vulnerable as it’s easier to guess your password.
Secondly, birthdates are often used in security verification questions.
This means that if a scammer has your date of birth AND email address, for example, they may try to hack into your online accounts by verifying themselves in. If your online accounts only have a one step verification process, they’ll easily be able to access and take over your account. This makes you vulnerable to all sorts of identity theft scams.
One of the worst scenarios would be if a scammer gains access to online accounts that are linked to your credit cards. Unless you have a secure password manager, these scammers will then be able to make purchases via your shopping accounts, send money via money transfer apps, and even extort money from your social media contacts and run scam ad campaigns via your social media account.
Similarly, if a telephone company or bank only verifies your identity via your name and date of birth, scammers can call them, impersonate you, and take over your account by making unauthorized changes to your account.
What to do if a scammer has your date of birth
- Change the verification settings on your accounts to a more secure question and answer
- Use a personal information monitoring tool to secure your online accounts
If you gave a scammer your email address, they can do very little with it on its own. In most cases, scammers will send out phishing emails and junk mail to trick you into giving them more personal information.
They may use an official-looking email address to trick you into giving them your information. There are a variety of kinds of emails that may include prize winnings, credit card payment warnings, job opportunities and so on. Providing your personal information to these emails could lead to identity theft, credit card scams, or even bank account wipe outs.
Email Address and Password
If you’ve accidentally given your email address AND password to a scammer, on the other hand, you’ve got to take all necessary measures to secure your financial accounts and online accounts as soon as possible.
It is especially dangerous if you use the same password for all your online accounts, as they will have full access to everything you own online.
Our email address contains a trove of personal information about our online activities. A scammer can identify which online accounts you are registered for, which bank you use, and which phone company you use.
The scammers can then change your passwords so you have no access to all your online accounts. In addition, they will be given One-Time-Pin verification codes that will enable them to access virtually all of your accounts.
Someone can also use your personal information to create a fake social media profile. They can even use your public picture available online.
This will allow them to steal your identity, impersonate you, make huge purchases in your name, extort money from your email contacts and do incredible damage to your financial and online accounts.
What to do if a scammer has your email address and password
- Report the fraud to the FTC at www.reportfraud.ftc.gov and the police
- Inform your banks and contact the 3 credit bureaus to let them know your email has been hacked so they can freeze your credit and place an alert on your credit.
- Set up multiple step verifications for your online accounts and ensure you have a secure password generator and storage manager to ensure your passwords are strong and kept safe.
How to check if someone is using my identity?
If you gave your personal information to a scammer, here’s how to know if you could be a victim of identity theft.
- Look for warning signs such as not getting your bills, being chased by debt collectors for debt that is not yours, being billed for medical services you did not use, etc.
- Request for a copy of your credit report from the 3 credit bureaus and carefully check the entries. You can get a free copy of your credit report for free once a year at annualcreditreport.com or even more frequently using credit monitoring tools. If you see any charges or entries that are not yours or you did authorize, you can dispute these entries to be removed.
- Always check your credit card statement every billing cycle for inaccuracies or unfamiliar charges. If your bank allows you to view your credit card transactions online you may want to check it more regularly in case of fraudulent transactions. The earlier these are reported to your bank the easier it is to prevent further transactions and to ensure you are not responsible for the charges.
To see whether someone else is using your Social Security Number, Go to my Social Security page of the Social Security website to check your account for any inaccuracies. Through this webpage, you will be able to check whether you are a victim of employee-related identity fraud.
What to do if you have been victimized by a scammer?
If you have been a victim of identity theft, you can go to the government’s one-stop website identitytheft.gov. This website provides a step-by-step guide on what you need to do to resolve the problem.
The website will guide you on how to:
- Report the fraud to the three major credit bureaus.
- Report the fraud to the local police authorities.
- Report the fraud to the Federal Trade Commission.
- Report the fraud to the IRS.
- Report the fraud to the companies involved where the identity theft took place.
9 Tips on how to secure your personal information to avoid scammers
Scammers are getting increasingly sophisticated when it comes to committing fraud. It is thus very important to become more vigilant when it comes to protecting your personal information. Here are some things you can do to protect yourself.
1. Never Giving Out Your Personal Information
Avoid giving out your personal details online (especially by email) to people you do not personally know. Some details that should be kept private include your address, social security numbers, passwords, credit / debit card information, credit status and insurance policy numbers.
Plus, always be wary of unfamiliar emails as these may be scam emails that were designed to hack accounts.
2. Check the validity of any organization Asking For your personal information
Before providing your personal information to someone, make sure you assess the legitimacy of the organization. Taking the time to thoroughly research the company may save you from being exploited. Also, always be wary of unfamiliar emails as these may be scam emails that were designed to hack accounts.
3. Monitor your credit reports regularly
Monitoring your credit report will provide you with key information in finding out whether a scammer has gained access to your personal information. Your credit report will provide you with information on:
- Whether a scammer has opened financial accounts in your name
- Lender enquiries you didn’t initiate turn up on your reports
- Unexplained negative changes in your credit score
4. Monitor your Financial Accounts regularly
Monitoring your financial account routinely ensures you identify fraudulent transactions before a scammer has fully taken advantage of your personal information. By identifying unknown transactions early, you can prevent the problem from getting worse.
We highly recommend using Aura if you want to be sure that your personal information hasn’t fallen into the wrong hands. We personally used Aura to monitor our credit, banks, and personal information and gained peace of mind well worth any uncertainty we would have felt otherwise. Their free trial is currently available to users, so be sure to take advantage of it as well.
5. Avoid connecting your Credit or Debit card To Online Platforms
Don’t connect a credit card or a debit card with a high credit limit to your online accounts to avoid compromising them when you can.
6. Use a secure connection and VPN when surfing the web
Using a VPN when surfing the net will also further protect your online activities from hackers who can easily tap into unsecured WIFI networks to access your browsing activities and data.
7. Using Secure Passwords
Ensuring you have a strong password that can’t be easily guessed prevents hackers from accessing your online accounts. This makes your online account extremely vulnerable as once a hacker has your password for even one account, they may be able to access critical information like your linked credit cards and personal information.
8. Public Record Monitoring
When a scammer uses your Social Security Number to register for a crime, your public record will always be tainted. Being wrongly accused of a crime can even lead to the police at your doorstep and a warrant for your arrest. To prevent this from ever happening, you can monitor public records for your information online from time to time.
9. Dark Web Monitoring
The dark web is a scammers rendition of ebay. It is tedious to access and even illegal to access in certain states, which is why we definitely DO NOT recommend going into the dark web to monitor whether your personal information has ended up there for scammers to exploit.
The best way to ensure your information has not been leaked onto the dark web is to use dark web monitoring tools such as Aura where experts scan the dark web for you. These tools will alert you if your information has been found on the dark web and they even take swift action to remedy that situation.