You use the internet for various activities that may involve giving out some of your personal information. Did you know that you may be at risk of identity theft?
Identity theft has been making the headlines these days. Understandably, that can make you worry that you might have been complacent with your information in the past.
Your personal information can easily fall into the wrong hands, and such crimes can be costly on your part. They only need one sensitive data to wreak havoc in your life.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go online at all. There are things you can do to keep your information safe while surfing the web.
We researched the web about identity theft to help you know the one thing that you might be unaware you should do to avoid identity theft. So keep reading and don’t miss out on crucial information on how to protect yourself against such crimes.
There’s no doubt it’s scary to think that anyone can grab a list of your private data on the internet, even without hacking. For most of us, our entire lives are recorded on the internet, so you want to protect it with any means necessary.
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What information do identity thieves need to steal from you?
Identity theft involves using your personal information to impersonate and steal from you. It’s a common and growing problem today.
Scammers don’t need all of your personal details to steal your identity. They just need a few to cause damage to your life.
Listed below are key pieces of information that scammers use to take your identity. They only need a few of your sensitive data to start ruining your finances.
- Social Security number
Your social security number can be used for different purposes, from opening a new bank account to requesting government documents. You’ll be vulnerable to identity theft if scammers can get hold of this piece of information.
Scammers can use your Social Security to gather your other personal data they need to steal your identity.
- Full name
Did you know that your full name can also be used to steal your identity? It’s a piece of valuable information to scammers, especially if they get their hands on your full first, middle, and last name.
They can open a new account under your name and even make an online purchase. Scammers can also use it to collect your other personal information.
- Date and place of birth
One of the most common pieces of information you easily give out online is your place and date of birth. Scammers can use them to steal your identity.
They can use your place and date of birth to confirm details that they may already have to gain access to your account or reset passwords.
Unfortunately, it’s easy for hackers to know these pieces of information because of social media. It’s best if you put out your personal details online a little less.
- Driver’s license or passport number
Your driver’s license and passport contain personal information, such as full name, birth date, address, and nationality. Scammers can easily gather your other sensitive data if they get their hands on your passport or driver’s license
- Financial Account Numbers
Hackers are also after your credit or debit card numbers and your checking or savings account numbers. If they get your credit card number and manage to guess your PIN, they can easily siphon money away from your account.
- Banking PINs
You should never share any of your banking PINs. It exists to secure your credit and debit cards.
It’s vital to use unique combinations and avoid using weak or common ones, such as 1111 or 1234. Don’t base your PIN combination is something that hackers can easily research, like your birthdate.
You must also avoid using the same PIN combination for different accounts. If cybercriminals get access to one, they’ll get free access to your other accounts since you’re using the same PIN.
- Card expiration dates and security codes
Aside from your credit card number, you also need to enter the security code and expiration date when you make online purchases. Scammers can use your credit card to make unauthorized purchases if they have this information.
Beware of phone calls from people claiming that they’re from your credit card company. They would trick you into giving your credit card information.
When this happens, end the call immediately. Call your credit card company to verify if they called you earlier and asked for your credit card details.
- Physical and email address
Scammers can also use your physical address for whaling. It’s a method wherein cybercriminals pose as senior executives at an organization to trick people into revealing sensitive data or wiring funds.
Meanwhile, you use your email address to create and access your online accounts. Scammers who know your email address can target you with phishing emails and scams.
- Affiliations, memberships, and employer
Identity thieves can use your affiliations, memberships, and employer for spear phishing. It involves using electronic communications, such as emails, to steal information for malicious purposes. `
You may receive a fake email from your employer or a group where you’re a member, asking you to confirm your identity or to click a link that would direct you to a website that’s full of malware.
You must stay vigilant. It’s better to verify with your employer, club, group, or other group affiliations first before giving out any sensitive data. If you’re not careful, scammers can easily alter your license and passport by replacing your photo with someone else.
Identity theft can cause a lot of damage in your life. It’s important that you don’t give hackers free access to your personal details. You must be vigilant and protect your information.
Identity theft can have a significant and damaging effect on your financial life. Knowing how to avoid scams and protect your data can go a long way.
How can one information result in identity theft?
As mentioned previously, hackers only need a few of your information to steal your details.
Here are some ways one information can lead to identity theft:
- Scammers can easily get access to your personal information if you lose your wallet that contains your Social Security card, credit cards, etc.
- Some may steal your mail from your unlocked mailbox and have it forwarded to a different access. Once they get their hands on your financial statements, they can easily get access to your other confidential information.
- Hackers may gain access to your device when you connect to the internet to shop online or make financial transactions using public Wi-Fi.
- Cybercriminals may use phishing emails to trick you into disclosing your personal data. All they need is your email address, and when you take the bait, they’ll have a free pass to your other information.
- Phone scams are also common. Callers may pose as an employee of a trusted institution and ask for your personal or financial information.
Data breaches may also be the cause that hackers get access to your personal information. They may accidentally obtain your data if they manage to hack banks or government accounts.
What can criminals do with your information?
Scammers can do a lot of things using your stolen personal information.
- They can apply for a new credit line or take out loans.
- They can open utility accounts.
- They can steal your tax credit or refund.
- They can file insurance claims.
- They can use your personal information to pay for medical treatments you never received.
- They can change passwords to your accounts, leaving you unable to access them.
- They can use your identity to commit illegal activities.
Imagine how much chaos scammers can bring to your life. That’s why it’s crucial to find effective ways to keep identity thieves at bay.
How to prevent identity theft
Scammers may be getting clever in their tactics to steal information from the unknowing public. But there are things you can do to lower your risks of falling prey to their shady activities.
Here are some tips to prevent identity theft:
- Your Social Security number holds the key to most of your personal details. Keep it safe and secure as best as possible.
- Don’t carry a Social Security card with you, especially in public places. Furthermore, secure documents that contain your SSN or shred unused paperwork that has this number.
- Beware of unsolicited emails, unexpected phone calls, or mail from unknown individuals or entities.
- Use unique and strong passwords. Don’t use the same passwords for different accounts.
- Add a multifactor authentication step for an extra layer of protection.
- Sign up for email or text notifications so financial institutions can send alert you of any activities in your financial accounts.
- Shred any documents that contain your personal information before throwing them out in the garbage.
- Check your credit reports regularly. Watch out for unusual details, which may indicate fraudulent transactions.
- Read your billing, medical, or other financial statements. Check if you recognize each transaction.
IMPORTANT: Stealing your mail is one of the most common and easiest ways criminals can get access to your personal information. It may sound very obvious, but many people are left unaware of this possibility. That is why you should keep your postal mail safe in a lockable mailbox. You can also have your mail held if you’re away so it won’t fall into the wrong hands.
Millions of people became victims of identity theft. Fortunately, you can set up security measures to protect your information.
We live in a digital world, but the safety of our information is sometimes uncertain and unpredictable.
Aura offers peace of mind as our #1 rated identity theft protection company by monitoring your private data and alerting you to any suspicious activity. Together, you can take appropriate measures to protect yourself.
It’s time for you to try Aura for maximum data protection, security and peace of mind.
Don’t let fraudsters get hold of your personal information. Keep your details safe and secure from prying eyes.
Not only that, it’s best to be careful when giving out your full name, email or physical address, birth date, and other similar details to other people. If possible, only provide this data when necessary and in person.
Identity theft is a serious matter. It could lead to extensive financial loss and damage, which could ruin your life.
Set up security measures to protect your personal data. And, always remain vigilant.