Identity theft or identity fraud is a term used in the digital space that is described as the use of an individual’s personally identifying information by someone else without that individual’s permission or knowledge. This form of impersonation generally leads to financial harm to the individual.
Over the years, Identity theft has increased exponentially. Hackers and thieves have gotten more and more sophisticated. While on the other hand, people are getting more and more laid back in their online security and privacy.
People are so hooked at social media platforms like Facebook to the point that, they post their entire life without thinking the consequences. Publicly posting sensitive information like credit cards, social security numbers, etc, etc…
“In the past, criminals would get and sell bits and pieces of your personal information,” said Al Pascual, senior vice president, research director and head of fraud and security at Javelin Strategy & Research. “Now they have everything — your name, address, Social Security number — and they’re taking over multiple accounts at a time.”
Javelin’s latest survey found that some 16.7 million individuals were affected by ID theft in 2017, the most ever. That’s just as scary as hell if not disturbing enough!
Why did this happen? It’s because we don’t educate ourselves enough in what we do online. We always tend to buy into that idea of “I want things to just work” rather than taking an extra step to make things work. And that’s convenience over security.
Let’s take password management for example like LastPass. Most people don’t take extra measures in creating a sophisticated password. Some even uses the default ‘1234’ password over and over. And some don’t even change them. Some just ignore the additional security setting of their accounts, like two-factor authentication (2FA), in favour of convenience.
We have the obligation to take reasonable precautions to protect our personal information and are often in the best position to keep them secure.
Shredders and shredding services are available to prevent dumpster divers. Prevent mail theft by subscribing credit card and bank statements electronically.
Use computer antivirus and anti-malware programs like Avast Internet Security, Sophos, Malwarebytes, and the like to deter hackers. Internet users can choose what information to reveal online. Furthermore, they should be wary of spam messages and non-secure websites.
Regular checking and monitoring of accounts, including one’s credit score, can detect suspicious behaviour early.
And finally, using a VPN service like NordVPN, VyprVPN, Avast Secureline, and the like to ensure security and privacy. VPN totally encrypts your internet activities from end-to-end. Thereby, making it difficult for hackers to intercept and snoop your sensitive data.