Blog 18 Mar 2024
Identity Theft Protection

Identity Theft Protection | Guidelines & Preventive Measures to Secure Your Identity Digitally

Author: admin | 18 Mar 2024

Imagine one morning you wake up and see your email account flooded with unknown emails, your bank account empty, and your social media presence and reputation tarnished due to questionable posts you never made. But they contain your pictures which your colleagues and family are shocked too. This is not a random scenario but a harsh reality that people face every day due to identity theft. 

Recent statistics from 2023 show a rise in identity theft attempts at 6% among overall fraud attempts and the number is rising. Impersonation fraud stood at the highest 85% of total identity theft in the same year. And this illicit game doesn’t stop here. In 2023, Fraudsters targeted National ID cards the most for identity theft attempts which was at 46%. This is because many governments still issue ID cards that are non-compliant with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) guidelines and are not fit for international travel. This makes these ID Cards vulnerable to identity theft and are used for criminal acts.

But how do identity thieves get access to sensitive information and what are the best Identity Theft Protection mechanisms? Let’s find out in this article.

Key Takeaways

  • Identity theft is a punishable crime resulting in imprisonment, fines, and property forfeiture.
  • Identity theft can cause both financial and reputational damage to the victim in different ways.
  • Implementing strong preventive measures is necessary to protect identities both digitally and physically.

Overview of Identity Theft 

Identity Theft is defined as an act of stealing a real person’s personally identifiable information through different illicit means to misuse it. The stolen information could be a name, date of birth, face picture, or an entire identity document like a driver’s license or identity card. Identity thieves will first place a hook on the targeted individual and will try to gain trust. Once the trust is built, the sensitive identifiable information is extracted either by tricking the individual or by stealing or hacking if the information exists digitally online.

Legal Information on Identity Theft

The term identity theft is often used interchangeably with Identity Fraud. It is because the US Department of Justice (DOJ) codes both terms under one header and as a punishable criminal offense. It defines Identity theft and Identity fraud as wrongfully gaining access to someone’s personal information in any way that involves fraud or deception and that the activity is typically carried out for illicit monetary gains.

According to Federal Law 18 U.S.C. § 1028(a)(7), knowingly transferring or using another person’s means of identification without a lawful authority is prohibited. If an identity theft offense is committed, the defaulter may face a maximum prison sentence of 15 years, a fine, and or criminal forfeiture of property used or intended to be used for identity theft or earned through identity theft.

Now, if you find out anyone committing identity theft, you can confidently report it to the authorities and help others to get justice.

Scenarios of Identity Theft

There are 2 major ways in which an Identity thief can steal your sensitive information.

1. Physical Identity Document theft in which the fraudster will physically steal your document or by copying information from your identity document can forge a new identity document and use it.
2 .  Digital footprints like your online banking activities, registering at a government website, utility bill payment, or even social media activities can also be targeted by hackers to steal your information.


Types & Tactics of Identity Theft

1. Impersonation Attack

Impersonation is also called classical identity theft. It is one of the most common identity theft practices. In impersonation, a fraudster assumes the identity of another person. Fraudster does this by holding the identity documents of the victim or can change physical features like wearing a mask, or makeup that makes the fraudster look like the victim. In digital identities, the impersonator can hack into the social media profile to steal pictures and other information to create another identity of the same person and use it online.

2. Social Engineering Fraud

It is a psychological and emotional manipulation technique to make the victim share personal information. This technique can be carried out digitally through social media friendships and connections. A fraudster can develop a fake relationship or fake business ties with anyone and gain the trust of the victim to steal sensitive information. This information is then used for ransom, sweeping bank accounts, and other crimes.

3. Account Takeover (ATO) Fraud

It is one of the most damaging and aggressive ways of identity theft. In account takeover, the complete control and authority of a person’s online account is hijacked. All the personal information along with authorization details is stolen and changed. Thus, the victim is left helpless in regaining access to his or her information.

4. Phishing

Using deceptive emails, fake promotional popup messages, and creating fake websites for prizes and lotteries is another way of stealing personal information. Cybercriminals jack people out of their entire life savings once they gain the trust and confidence of a person on an online scheme which is a trap. People when logging in with their details or sharing their credit card information without consulting their bank will mostly become victims through phishing. 

5. ATM Skimming

Skimmers are imitated devices that are placed on the card insertion section of an ATM. A user’s credit or debit card information is stolen the moment he inserts his ATM card. When the information is stolen, it can be used to create a fake ATM card and withdraw all money in it.

6. Business Email Compromise

Identity Fraud can also be done by gaining access to the business email of a key person in an organization. This access to the email can be used to request payments from company accounts and divert the cash into the fraudster’s account.

Identity Theft Prevention for Users

Users, especially online banking customers need to understand the risk associated with identity theft attempts. To prevent identity theft users can practice the following tips to safeguard their personal information and credentials.

  • Keep your identity documents in a wallet and never let them out of your sight. If you need to use them anywhere, ensure it is a legitimate place and always cut the copies of your identity documents for secondary use.
  • To protect your digital identities and financial accounts, use strong passwords and multi-factor authentication (MFA) to add layers of security. You can use biometric verification features like facial recognition, fingerprints, and voice recognition to fully secure your accounts.
  • Never use public Wifi to log into your digital banking services. Cybersecurity laws are not stringent everywhere and criminals can use your phone’s connectivity to the Wifi to hack your phone. 
  • Never trust any email, WhatsApp message, or text message asking you to claim your reward or prize. Remember these are all scams as you live a normal life and never invested in any lottery. Report such emails as spam and block them instantly. Also, file a report and raise social media awareness about the specific fraud using screenshots safely. Don’t forget to alert the cybersecurity authorities of your jurisdiction.
  • Monitor your financial account and social media activities regularly. If you see anything that seems suspicious, report that to your bank and try not to engage in any social media debate over sensitive topics. Don’t poke your nose in any matter that doesn’t concern you. This might be a trap to get you to play hero and then empty your account.

Which of the following is not a recommended method to protect you from identity theft?

Identity theft protection methods can have multiple tactics. But remember not to go personally into tracking or using any technology to do so that you are not an expert. Remember, that criminals are always ahead of you in every possible way. They have done years of research in hacking, forgery, counterfeiting, and other fraudulent activities and now they are equipped with the latest digital tools to upscale their game of cyber terror. If you decide to bring them to justice on your own you will only end up losing more money, bearing more stress, and exhausting more resources.

Also, never go for installing freeware security software or the ones that have no credibility or have no certifications from a recognized regulatory body. 

Facia – Trust the Trusted Name in Biometric Industry

To protect users from identity theft from the organization’s end, banks, FIs, and other cash-intensive businesses must implement a robust Identity Verification solution. Customer identity verification is the key factor in securing identities and detecting identity theft attempts. However, many things are to be considered while choosing an IDV solution. Since criminals have been weaponized with AI and other tools to spoof or steal anyone’s identity and commit fraud, Identification Solutions must also become effective and updated to mitigate identity fraud.

Facia is a one-stop identity guard that brings a unique mesh of speed, accuracy, and stringency in detecting identity fraud. With a speed of verifying identity in less than a second, Facia stands as the fastest facial identification solution that can help businesses secure their client’s and employees’ identities from fraudulent attempts in real time.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is it important to have identity theft protection?

Identity theft protection is vitally important because identity theft cases are rising with sharp numbers every year. If you wish not to lose your social media account or your entire life savings to a scammer, take robust identity theft protection measures now.

What are some ways you can limit or prevent identity theft or fraudulent charges?

You can protect your identity by:

  • Applying strong passwords and using Multi-factor Authentication (MFA) having biometric verification.
  • Regularly monitoring your account activities and reporting any suspicion to the authorities.
  • Keeping your identity document safe and secure in a single place and only in your access.

What should you do if you suspect you are the victim of identity theft?

Immediately, change all your account credentials and passwords, log out from everywhere, and report to authorities.

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