Identity thieves can come in many shapes and sizes, both online and in the real world. They might be a stranger, or even someone you know. Identity theft may not always be done to commit an identity fraud. There are data collection companies who collect your data through surveys, at shopping malls, restaurant feedback forms, etc., and sell it to online companies and merchants who in turn promote their products and services to you over phone and emails. You may have received such type of calls and emails marketing their products and services. You might wonder how the person sending you the email got your details. These kinds of companies will try asking you to provide contact details for friends by saying you will get some kind of advantage, like an extra chance to win something. Most of the people commit this mistake and expose their friend’s details to them and so it goes on. This is a common form of identity theft which is not so harmful to your money or reputation but it compromises your privacy.
But the other kind of identity thief is more dangerous. This is the one who gathers your information and uses it to commit a financial fraud. This kind of fraud may cost you money and reputation. Recovering from these frauds is a very long process with court proceedings and obtaining clearances from banks and other licensing authorities. You cannot anticipate from where these identity thieves will get access to your information. It might even be from a dustbin where you would have thrown some paper with some personal info. If they are successful in gathering basic information, they can access your emails and bank accounts as well. Identity thieves are capable of using anything they find.
Identity thieves are attracted to social networking sites because most teenagers are found there and the advantage is they have a clean credit history. It then becomes easy for them to steal your identity, and commit financial fraud… in your name!
To keep your identity safe, you should:
- Write less about yourself and others online: Limit the amount of personal information you post on your blog or other social networking sites. At the same time be conscious about writing about someone online, because most of the blogs and social networking sites are publically accessible.
- Don’t click on any emails unless you know about the sender, otherwise just delete them.
- Don’t participate in online quizzes and surveys without evaluating the organization and purpose of the survey. Some surveys are conducted as the means to gather your personal information, so be careful regarding these sites.
- While making online transactions and purchases, make sure the site is a secured site and that the web address begins with “https” (not “http”) and that it uses a secure software - you can check on the bottom of the page where something like “Norton Secured powered by VeriSign” will be available.