Privacy of information is a critical concern over the web. Whether it is a social security number, driving license number or any private information including name, date of birth, address can put users at risk if it is stolen. Identity thieves can make users victim and use their name or identity to carry out transactions or purchase. However, identity theft is a serious crime and covers many types like stealing wallets, mail, data breach, phishing fraud, etc.
Once identity thieves obtain information, they ruin the credibility of a person by filing a fake tax return on behalf of a victim, purchasing stuffs or getting a new credit card.
Javelin Report on ID Theft:
According to Javelin report, there were 13.1 million people victimized due to ID theft in 2013. Those people between 35 to 44 ages are at the highest risk of identity theft. Almost $18 billion amount stolen in ID theft in 2013. The report further states that Ecommerce was a soft target for identity thieves and 44% of all frauds were involved in online transactions.
Social Networking and ID theft:
Before discussing further, it is essential to know that how social media is also even influenced with ID theft. Currently, social media becomes an easy way for identity theft, where users shares and post their private information. Identity thieves access such user’s information and misuse it.
Below are some ways that lead to ID theft over social networking websites:
- Lack of privacy setting
- Respond to unknown person
- Reveal password details to unfamiliar person
- Participate in quiz that requires too much private information
- Click on links that leads to unknown website
- Use of out dated security software
ID Theft Protection Tips:
After discussing the grounds of ID theft, it is essential to defend against it. Below are some tips that can protect users from ID theft and keep privacy of user information.
Sharing Personal Information:
Make sure that whenever users decide to give private information to any website, the website should be a legitimate or authority website. Do not share personal information to any phishing mail, or any unknown person. Avoid information sharing that is related to home or office address, phone numbers, social security number, and birthplace. Even offline information should be kept in safe place and lock fiscal records.
Do not respond to unknown mails:
Unknown mails that pretend to be from legitimate source can lead users to another website to steal user’s information. Even such mail contains attachments that may ask the user to download and fill up the form. Phishers target social media and post phishing page that lure users to act upon it. Phishing mail contains grammatical errors, improper page formatting, fake URL so users have to consider these things before responding any unknown mail.
Keep Strong Password:
Whenever users want to subscribe any service or product, the website generally asks for personal details and allows users to keep a strong password. It is quite complex to handle all these passwords at once, so it is more beneficial to carry on a password manager for multiple passwords. Users should keep a strong password that should contain upper and lower alphabets and numbers. Do not use birth date, name, vehicle number as a password and keep a safe password that should contain non-alphabetical character or numeric value. The User should change the password periodically to remain secure over the web.
Protect Mobile device and PC:
Whether it is Smartphone or PC, user should not store sensitive information on these devices. However, if users do so, then protect PC or mobile device with firewall, spyware software and updated antivirus software. Always consider browser update and keep a lengthy and strong password for Wi-Fi connection. Try to avoid public Wi-Fi network as attackers may have hosted it.
Check SSL on Website:
The main precaution is a “secured website” whether users are on ecommerce website or banking website; it is quite necessary to check SSL (secure socket layer) on such websites. SSL generally encrypts the information between the client and server thus avoids third party interruption. Whether the website is equipped with SSL or not can be found out by its URL. The URL should start with HTTPS instead of HTTP in case of SSL equipped website.
Monitor Credit Card Statement:
Always monitor credit card statement whenever a user finds any suspicious transaction, the user should inform the credit card issuer authority to block the credit card immediately. Do not reveal credit card PIN number or login details to unknown person. Always go for authority website when users need to pay via credit or debit card. Try to get a credit report once in a year.
After going through the above protection tips, it is sure that users have to be proactive to defend their identities. Attackers use sophisticated techniques to entice users and make them a victim of ID theft, therefore whether it is offline or online activities, users should have a sense of what they share and to whom they share.
Image by: Don Hankins (https://www.flickr.com/photos/23905174@N00/)