Thanks to technology advancing at a rapid rate, our entire world has become connected. The majority of our personal information is stored on a small device that goes into our pocket. This has brought a new level of accessibility and convenience to our lives.
However, the same reason this makes our lives convenient is also the reason why it puts us more at risk than usual. Having all of your personal information stored on one of your devices exposes you to the risk of having all of that data stolen by a cybercriminal.
One of the crimes that cybercriminals can commit once they get hold of your personal data is identity theft. According to VPNOverview, identity theft is one of the most common crimes and it can do some major damage if you don’t take action to prevent it from happening. Read on to see how cybercriminals can steal your personal information to commit identity theft against you and what you can do to prevent that from happening.
How do Cybercriminals Steal Your Identity Online?
Over the years cybercriminals have developed several different tactics they can use to steal your personal information. They have also developed strategies that make it easier for them to trick potential victims into handing their personal information over to them.
The most common tactic that cybercriminals use is phishing scams, and you’re likely to have come across these in the past. Phishing involves sending fraudulent emails to the victim’s email inbox urging them to interact with a link or attachment in the email.
Once the victim clicks on a link in a phishing email they will be taken to a website that has a keylogger installed on it. A keylogger is used to copy everything that is typed into the website. For example, if you type your login credentials on the website, it will be given straight to the cybercriminal.
Phishing emails can also be used to install malicious software, also known as malware on your device. If the victim were to interact with a link or attachment in an email, it can prompt dangerous malware to be installed on their device.
Malware can range from viruses to spyware and ransomware. Spyware is used by cybercriminals to commit identity theft. Spyware is able to track your online data and collect your information, which the cybercriminals can then use against you.
In recent years cybercriminals have become much more adept at perfecting their phishing scams. They have become more successful at targeting victims by using social engineering. Social engineering is when the cybercriminals pose as a company or persona that you know and trust, and therefore won’t question as to why you are receiving emails from them that you need to interact with.
Types of Online Identity Theft?
There are different types of identity theft that exist in the world of cybercrime, and it’s important to understand these different types of crimes and how they work. Many of them affect your credit score and bank accounts, whereas others could have entirely different consequences.
One of the most common types of identity theft is called account takeovers. This is when a cybercriminal is able to get hold of your login credentials and proceeds to use your account without your knowledge while pretending to be you. Oftentimes a cybercriminal will change the email address of the account to prevent you from receiving emails and catching onto their schemes.
Another form of identity theft that is on the rise is called synthetic identity theft. In this scenario, a cybercriminal simply needs your social security number, which they can combine with a fake name, address and date of birth. They can use this “fake person” to open accounts, get credit cards, and buy products and services. However, since your social security number is linked to these activities you will be the one who gets into trouble as there is no way to trace the cybercriminal.
If a cybercriminal was able to get hold of your driver’s licence number they can forge identification cards that are linked to you. They will use their own photo and present this fake identification to law enforcement. You might not find out about this until you are stopped for outstanding fines and warrants against your name.
How to Keep Your Identity Secure
You must avoid becoming the victim of identity theft at all costs as it can have devastating effects on your life. There are a few different steps you can take to ensure that you don’t fall victim to cybercrime.
The first is to keep all of your personal data and information secure. No matter how insignificant you might think it is, such as a name or date of birth, keeping all of your information safe is top priority. If a cybercriminal gets hold of enough of your details you could become their next victim.
You should also install premium antivirus software on your device. Antivirus software will constantly scan your device for any viruses. If any viruses has been discovered on your device, the antivirus can take action to remove it.
While it’s important to have antivirus software installed on your device, you must also ensure that it is always kept up to date. Software updates are often sent out by developers to fix any flaws that have been discovered in the software. Updates also usually add extra security features to keep your device protected against new strategies used by cybercriminals.
If you want to avoid phishing scams it’s important that you earn to identify them. The best way to identify phishing scams is by checking the spelling and grammar of the email. Oftentimes there will be errors in the text of the email that have not been fixed before it was sent.
Phishing scams also usually start with a generic greeting rather than using your name. If a company was sending an email to you, they would use the name in their database that you have provided them with.
Finally, you should always check the email’s sender address. Oftentimes cybercriminals will attempt to replicate the email address of the company that they are trying to impersonate. This would lead to strange looking email addresses such as ‘N3tflix’ or ‘Netfl1x’ instead of just ‘Netlfix’.