All You Need to Know About Identity Theft and its Prevention
The 21st hundred has seen a significant rise in the shift of businesses, ventures, and the overall idea of changing lifestyle patterns to online mediums.
This translates to more designs and products being prevalent online and a marked shift in one of the most pivotal aspects of such transactions—currency, and of course, identity.
Where there is a third medium (here, online gateways, or forums) exists, there is always a chance of identity breaches—and theft.
1. What is Identity Theft?
In this day and age of viral Instagram videos, incessant Facebook shares, and memes found on Reddit, it is rather easy to track your online activity.
Identity theft refers to acquiring your sense of identity, quite obviously, through illegal means. Usually, the places above are hubs for such events, if you end up on the wrong side of such ventures.
Using an identity theft protection service, keeping your device clean and free of any obscure apps, and even installing the best antivirus possible, can improve your system and keep you safe from identity theft online.
The concept of identity theft ramifies into many directions than you might think. Identity theft can also extend to day-to-day ventures, such as visiting public ATMs or even getting calls from helpline numbers.
The devil is in details, so let’s dive into it.
2. Protection is Best When Prevention is Difficult
As stated earlier, identity theft does not mainly refer to acquiring your social media handles or even making a spam account or two resembling yours. It extends much beyond and can be much, much worse.
a. Helping the Elderly, Aiding the Young
This mostly pertains to offline ventures and daily tasks. Be it the elderly individual going to the nearest ATM, or the teenager going to school—identity theft can be exercised and executed even in the most minutely essential events in life.
When it comes to the elderly, awareness and education are quintessential. Often, trust and age tend to correlate—while this sounds wholesome on the surface, this trust is a breeding ground for identity theft.
Why would you disclose your bank details?
They said they were calling from the credit company.
This is a rather common scenario. The other person, masquerading as a customer service member, slowly but surely collects all of your details, and then hangs up the phone. Oh, and even when it concerns the money stored safely in your bank—awareness is pivotal.
Similarly, in cases involving children, keeping track of their school ID, accompanying them and so forth, not only contributes to making you a better parent but also helps them be safe from the vultures of identity theft.
b. Stay Online, Stay Vigilant
For the less vulnerable demographic—the onus is on you. You are aware of all the possible ways identity theft can happen online, which means that you ought to be not just more cautious, but also ensure that there are zero concentration lapses.
It is a huge task to be sanitized entirely when it comes to identity theft. However, you can always keep the following in mind to maximize efficiency.
- No spam email, no phishing—Delete, and move on. As with most hurtful experiences in life, it is essential for you to learn to get past these ludicrous (yet lucrative) spam emails and hyperlinks that guarantee a life-changing experience (getting your identity stolen included). Avoid opening such spam emails meant for phishing, let alone opening the link and its contents.
- Social Media Ads—This is a no-brainer. Social media ads tend to be based on what your search pattern is, so firstly, avoid fishing (to prevent phishing, so to say) for objectionable or questionable content. Use social media wisely; considering how ubiquitous this tool is, it is not practically possible to monitor 100% of the activities of everyone who has access to it, irrespective of what the companies tell you. This is where maximum vigilance is to be used.
- Protect your PC—As vigilant as you can be, equipping your electronic device with the right kind of protection is essential, for there is only so much you can do without technical know how. While malicious elements are on the rise, so is software capability.
3. To Conclude—Dark Web?
Don’t even think about it—there are some places we ought not to venture into. The dark web is one such place where identity thieves are notorious for spreading to the surface web.
If you end up with your identity stolen or misused, contact necessary authorities, get your accounts blocked, but do not try to venture into this dark world—for the onion peels get more convoluted.