Identity theft scams have been on the rise in recent years. With the increase in online behavior and sharing our lives online, it’s become easier for scammers to commit identity theft. Identity theft scams are when fraudsters steal your personal information and assume your identity. These scammers can then use your identity to steal your money or open accounts in your name. The most common identity theft scam is when someone steals your identity and runs up credit card debt in your name. Once the damage has been done, it can be difficult to prove the spending wasn’t you.
Learning to protect yourself from identity theft scams is important if you share your life online or use social media. Rather than choosing not to share your life online, there are ways you can stay safe and protect yourself from identity theft scams.
Common Ways for Fraudsters to Commit Identity Theft Scams
Online scammers can make use of various techniques to steal your information online and commit an identity theft scam. Here are the most common ways identity theft scammers can steal your personal information.
A common way for scammers to steal your personal information to commit an identity theft scam, is through phishing. This is when the scammer sends you a fraudulent email pretending to be from a bank or a person or company you might know. The email will often include a fake link that then takes you to a fraudulent website and asks you to enter your personal information. Without knowing it, you end up giving your information to the scammer. The scammer uses your social security number, home address and more to take on your identity.
Professional hackers are trained to hack into your protected devices or business accounts to steal your personal information. A lot of your personal information is often linked to your business accounts like banking information, your social security details and passwords. Hackers can exploit any weakness in the security systems and access this information to commit an identity theft scam.
Another way that scammers can trick you into accessing your personal information is through malware. Malware is software that gets downloaded onto your device that allows scammers to gain access to information on your device. Scammers can use this to steal your passwords and access your bank accounts through your devices. Downloading malware onto your devices usually happens by clicking on phishing links.
Fake Online Profiles
Another common way that scammers can gain access to your personal information is by creating a fake online social media profile. Scammers will create fake accounts pretending to be someone you know and send you a friend request. Once you accept their request, they can view any personal information you have listed on your social media profile. The other type of fake profile scam is when a scammer creates a fake profile pretending to be you. The scammer then sends friend requests to all your contacts trying to impersonate you to scam your family and friends.
Be careful not to throw out any documents that contain your personal information – like utility bills, bank statements or health records. Scammers can use this information to contact the bank or hospital and pretend to be you. These scammers can then take out loans or credit cards in your name or drain your accounts.
Tips To Protect Yourself from Identity Theft Scams
It’s important to be careful with the information you share online. Here are some tips to protect your personal information online.
- Don’t click on any suspicious links sent to you via email or text message.
- Do not share any important passwords online, via text message, or over the phone. The bank will never ask for this information over the phone or email.
- Do your research before giving out any information online. If something feels off it will be easy to find out if a company or person is reputable or not.
- Don’t use the same password for all your accounts. Make use of a secure password manager like LastPass.
- Secure your devices with anti-virus software to prevent hackers from getting access to your information.
- Be sure to shred any documents that have your personal information before throwing them out.
- Be careful not to share too much of your personal information on your social media accounts. And don’t accept friend requests from people you don’t know.
With more of our personal information being shared online every day, it’s important to know how to keep yourself safe. For the latest information on online scams and fraudsters, keep checking our Anti Fraud News blog for updates.