The year 2021 witnessed 50% more corporate cyberattacks than the year before. According to Accenture’s Cost of Cybercrime Study, 43% of victims of cyberattacks are small businesses. The worst part is only 14% have the necessary preparations to protect themselves. A cyberattack disrupts operations and also causes damage to the infrastructure and IT assets.
However, there’s one cyberattack that can prove to be even more dangerous – identity theft. That is when a cybercriminal or hacker steals the credentials of your consumer base and uses it to steal personal data like card details, bank account details, and more. They can then use this information to commit further cybercrimes.
Businesses can prevent this by employing fraud prevention and identity verification service providers like AU10TIX. Using bleeding-edge verification methodologies, which are over even before the user realizes it, Au10tix makes sure that the person signing up is who they say they are. Once you have ensured that only legit users can sign up on your website, you can rest easy.
Here’s a detailed guide on what identity theft entails, how it happens, and how to safeguard it. Armed with this knowledge, you will be able to make it harder to commit identity theft.
Table of Contents
Identity Theft: What is it?
You would be surprised to know that it’s not the act of stealing the data but what’s done with the stolen data is what entails identity theft. Whether the identity thief overheard you reading out your card details on the phone, bought your information on the dark web, or stole them in some other way, using that information in the next phase is identity theft.
The identity thief can use your information in multiple ways. They might apply for new credit cards or a line of credits pretending to be you. They can also use your banking details to make unauthorized purchases. Additionally, they can claim your tax return, use your health insurance for medical care, or land a job using your identity. According to a report, 15 million Americans fall prey to identity theft every year. This number is quite worrisome and should concern everyone.
How does ID Theft happen?
As mentioned before, identity theft can happen in multiple ways. They might overhear you sharing your details, buy them on the dark web, or through shady means. Let’s take a look at these shady means.
- Phishing: This is the most common method to commit identity theft. Cybercriminals send fraud emails and texts that look legit. These emails or texts contain a code that will download malware. It mines your device for personal data and sends it to a remote computer.
- Skimming: This particular method targets credit and debit cards of the users. Criminals place counterfeit devices at cash counters or point-of-sale systems like ATMs, retail stores, and others. This device captures data stored in the magnetic strip and passes it to the skimmer.
- Phone Scams: This is when the fraudsters call unsuspecting users, pretending to be from a bank, service provider, or IRS. They then fish for personal details, saying it’s required for some purpose. Always remember that banks and other such entities communicate over email.
- Data breaches: Data breach is when cybercriminals target the database of established companies to steal user information. This way, they can steal the personal information of millions of people and sell it on the dark web.
There are other ways like sifting through your postal mail, wi-fi hacking, and more. Always be extremely careful about what you show on social media, shred your documents, and use secure internet connectivity to be safe.
How to Know You’re a Victim?
If you check your bank account and credit card statements diligently, you should be able to spot identity theft signs quite easily. Common signs include discrepancies in financial statements, unauthorized purchases or withdrawals, credit card charges, etc.
Look out for transactions you have not performed, even if it’s as low as $5. Sometimes it starts with a smaller amount before wiping out your entire account. Stay alert for medical bills for services you didn’t avail of, loans you didn’t apply for, and an intimation letter about more than one tax return filed in your name.
How to Report Identity Theft?
If you suspect that you have been a victim of identity theft, contact one of the three major credit bureaus: TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax. Report to any one of these three, and it will be reported to the other two. After this, you can proceed to report the crime to authorities like FTC’s website called IdentityTheft.gov. You’ll find details like a recovery plan, guidance, and more.
Lastly, report the crime to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center. The bureau will track and distribute information to law enforcement, who will investigate the whole case.
In short, it pays to keep a close eye on your financials and ensure that nothing suspicious slips through. Takes precautionary measures as soon as you see something that should not be there.