Are you worried about being a victim of identity theft? Have you been a victim of identity theft in the past and looking to prevent it from happening again? Well, by learning how identity theft happens, you can prevent you or any of your loved ones from being victims. Keep in mind that technology is developing very fast thus criminals are becoming more imaginative. As a result, the causes of identity theft are evolving as well. Here’s what you need to know about how identity theft happens.
Some of the main causes of identity theft include the following:
Stolen Or Lost Personal Documents
Currently, more people are storing their information online. Here, a large-scale data breach can affect a lot of people within seconds. However, most of the known identity theft cases can be traced back to a stolen purse or wallet. A typical wallet contains a lot of sensitive information and personal details. For instance, you will most likely keep your credit cards, social security number and driver’s license in there. With that information, identity thieves can easily make purchases on your credit cards and get new cards, apply for loans and also get housing in your personal details.
Don’t forget about your digital devices such as tablets, laptops, wearables, and smartphones. Here, you can store your banking information, emails and a lot of personal information. Therefore, by ignoring regular updates on the software or failing to use passcodes will generally leave you vulnerable. On the other hand, your mailbox could leave you vulnerable especially if it’s not secure or locked. That’s because most of your financial information such as tax documents, bank statements and credit offers come through the mail. Also, you should shred any documents before throwing them in the trash.
Insecure Online Information
Thanks to the internet, you can effortlessly purchase anything online without leaving your home. You can also view your bank statements online or pay your utility bills with one click. With such convenience in the paperless transition, there’s a reduced risk of popular identity theft through stolen trash or mail.
However, you’re still at risk in many more ways. For instance, if you’re using unsafe connections by browsing the internet without a firewall or antivirus software, you’re vulnerable to hackers who will gain access to your personal information.
On the other hand, myriads of sites have popped up so it’s hard to find the most legitimate one if you don’t know what you’re looking for. However, you will notice that the insecure sites don’t start with https unlike the legitimate ones and that’s one way to avoid being hacked. Also, don’t use passwords that are easy to guess then use them across various online sites then storing them in one place. If a person got access to one password, they could easily find out all the rest and any information online will be accessed by malicious third parties.
Another online and common threat to your identity is phishing. Here, a criminal will pose as a legitimate business or individual such as a bank, IT administrator or auction site. Next, they will request for your information through a fake website or email. Therefore, whenever someone asks for your personal information, don’t give it out before confirming the legitimacy of the person asking it. There’s also doxing where a hacker will get your information and threaten to publish it online unless you perform a few things for him/her. Keep in mind that most of these online threats can be thwarted by securing your personal information and using safe websites whenever you’re online.
Large Scale Data Breaches
They have become quite common with lots of people being affected at once. For instance, if hackers gained access to credit card information, they can gain access to lots of identities. In most cases, data breaches can happen as a result of releasing secure information either maliciously or by accident to unsafe third party. Most of the common large-scale data breaches that have ever happened can be attributed to leakage of credit card information. However, it can span as far as a third party gaining access to email addresses, social security numbers, passwords and next of kin details.
There have been many cases all over the world where people gain access to this information and use it to create fake identities that resemble the real one. Therefore, if the other person is using your social security number or credit card information, everything will be billed back to the original owner. It’s advisable to check your credit card statements regularly to find out if there are any suspicious purchases that you haven’t done. If any, you should cancel the credit card immediately. Also, you should consider changing your passwords regularly to avoid being hacked. Finally, always use secure sources whenever you’re online regardless of the device you’re using.