How to protect yourself from online identity theft

How does online identity theft work and how can you protect yourself? We have the answers…

What is online identity theft?

Online identity theft – also known as identity fraud – is when someone obtains personal information about you over the internet and uses that information for their own personal gain. They commonly access your personal details via unsecured websites without your permission and pretend to be you so that they can commit fraud and remain undetected.

Once a cybercriminal has gotten hold of your details they might use it for any or all of the following:

• Take out contract phones or open other lines of credit, such as a credit card, in your name
• Purchase items or start a subscription on your debit or credit card without your knowledge
• Use your name and home address to get out of paying fines, to pass a background check or as proof of address.

How can someone steal your identity?

Many of us think we’re savvy enough not to become victims of identity fraud but the truth is it can happen to any one of us at any time. The reason for this is that fraudsters and scammers have gotten a little more sophisticated in their approach to commit crime – and sometimes their communication or approach seems legitimate. Let’s take a look at some identity theft examples to see how scammers attempt to steal your information:

How can you tell if your identity is at risk online?

Once stolen, criminals will use your data in all sorts of devious ways. Here’s some of the usual indicators that your identity may have been compromised:

• Have you lost any important documents recently? Was there anything suspicious about their disappearance? Have you taken the relevant precaution to make sure you are protected?
• Not receiving bills. Perhaps a criminal has given a different address to the one you actually reside in.
• Receiving credit cards you didn’t apply for? Or having credit denied despite being up to date with any payments you might have? Someone could be using your information.
• Being contacted by debt collection agencies. Do they want info about goods you haven’t even purchased? Then something’s definitely up.
• Abnormal transactions on your bank statements. If you didn’t make them, who did?
• Are you having trouble logging into websites? Then a criminal might be posing as you and has changed your password.

How can you keep your identity safe online?

When it comes to protecting yourself from identity theft, there are a few simple and constructive things you can do:

What to do if you think you’re a victim of identity theft

If you’re the victim of identity fraud you should take action immediately by getting in touch with the relevant provider or organisation.

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