Barely a day can go past without your reading or hearing something about identity theft nowadays. According to https://www.forbes.com, practices, like reusing passwords and using a public Wi-Fi network, are two of the top practices that can compromise your cyber safety. However, most people are clueless about what identity theft entails and how it can impact them. Compounding the confusion is the large number of myths on identity theft that make it very important for you to know the reality:
Identity Theft and Credit Card Fraud Are the Same
Even though credit card information theft is a major concern, it is just one aspect of identity theft. Apart from credit cards, identity theft is also commonly seen in medical records and tax returns. In fact, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) data reveals that government benefits and documents fraud totaled more than bank fraud, loan fraud, and credit card fraud, put together.
Identity Theft Is Mostly Online
Even though theft by multiple online methods like email, online banking, and social media continue to hog the headlines, it does not mean that cybercrime does not happen in other situations. There have been multiple instances of telephone calls, purported to have been made by the IRS demanding tax money you supposedly owe them. It is important to know that the IRS will always send you a letter and never demand payment over the phone. Another common way of stealing confidential information is looking over your shoulder as you feed in your ATM PIN or swiping the receipt off the restaurant table to obtain your name, signature, and credit card details.
Only Finances Are Affected by Identity Theft
Although stealing money is a prime motive for identity theft, there are many other instances, cybercriminals can use your identity, including forging drivers’ licenses, making a passport application, etc. and using the document fraudulently obtained to commit a crime for which you can be held liable. Medical identity theft to buy prescription drugs or filing fraudulent insurance claims is quite common. Take a look at the PFA review of some of the most common non-financial cases of identity theft in recent times.
It Is Easy to Spot an Email Scam
Many of the emails have stories that are patently ridiculous so it is easy to spot them as being scams; however, many emails pretend to have been issued by highly reputed organizations where the email asks for verification of account information by clicking on a link that takes them to a look-alike or phishing site that captures your information. Regardless of how credible the email may seem; it is always sensible to visit the site directly by entering the website address on the browser or calling the organization up to find out if the email is authentic.
It is very important for you to be aware of what identity theft is and its various ramifications so that you can be extra careful in protecting yourself. Essential steps include not sharing confidential personal and financial details over unsecured communication channels or to people who have no apparent use for it, regularly checking your bank and credit card details, and not falling for opportunities to make quick money. A suspicious mind is your most valuable asset in preventing identity theft.