November 03, 2023
Understanding identity theft
Monitor any potential threats to your personal or financial information. Understand the different forms of identity theft and how they can affect you.Learn more
Identity theft is no joke. While the internet makes it easier to access and store personal files, it also opens more opportunities for digital hackers to steal your information and use it for malicious purposes. By being aware of what online identity theft is and how it works, you can reduce the chances of becoming a victim of it. Learn about online identity theft and find prevention tips to keep your information safe.
Online identity theft happens when your files and passwords are involuntarily accessed by hackers and cybercriminals. Before the internet, identity theft occurred when criminals got a hold of your personal information by going through your mail or obtaining your records by creating fake organizations. But in today’s age of smartphones and computers, scammers can now reach you without having to leave their homes. By using the information they find online, scammers take a variety of measures with the goal of finding enough details to use your identity for their own personal gain.
The more time you spend on the internet, the bigger your digital footprint grows. When your digital footprint grows, more of your personal information is accessible online. Hackers and cybercriminals will often start with details like your name, phone number, and address, as they can be valuable tools for finding more confidential information like your Social Security number and credit card accounts. They can also target you by using phishing tactics like text messaging and email scams to get more information out of you.
Phishing scams are scary because they also serve as ploys to attach malware to your devices. Your phone or computer can get infected with malware by clicking on a pop-up ad or a link from a suspicious message. Once malware is on your device, scammers can go through your data to steal personal information or even spy on you without you knowing.
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Sometimes, the only information a scammer needs can be found on your social media profiles. Scammers will often create social media scams by using your name, pictures, and information to make a new profile that looks just like you. They can then use this profile to contact your friends and relatives and try to trick them into getting money or other personal details. In more advanced cases, scammers can hack into your own personal accounts and pose as you to contact your friends. This type of online identity theft can put others in danger of getting scammed and make you look bad in the process.
If you are a victim of online identity theft, you’ll most likely be affected by your finances. Scammers who get a hold of information like credit card numbers, passwords to online bank accounts, purchase history, or your Social Security number can rack up debt in your name and use your information to open new accounts. These actions can cause you to lose money and lower your credit score, which makes it difficult to take out loans in the future.
Scammers can also sell your private information to other people on the Dark Web. Once your information is passed along, it can be used for other illegal phishing scams. In more extreme cases, your identity may be used by someone else to escape criminal charges or to get medical care.
Staying safe online and protecting your data will prevent scammers from getting a hold of your personal information. Here are some tips you can follow:
Online identity theft can happen to anyone, but knowing how to keep your information protected will help you use the internet safely. Find more privacy and safety tips to stay alert while navigating the digital world.
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