Prevent Identity Theft
Identity theft is a crime in which a criminal pretends to be another person by assuming the identity of the same using devices that appear to accredit the identity of the victim, such as confidential information, passwords, vouchers, identifications, etc.
Usually this crime is aimed at having access to resources and assets that are obtained or that are in the name of the victim, such as credit cards, bank loans, property, etc..
Victims of identity theft can potentially suffer serious consequences as a result of the actions of the perpetrator of the crime.
An example of this is the extreme case, but it has occurred, in which the criminal acquires a loan to buy a house or some other property.
A person may be unaware that he or she has been a victim of identity theft for a long time, until creditors begin trying to collect payments on the commitment that the wrongdoer made on behalf of the victim. In less extreme cases, unidentified charges begin to appear on victims’ credit cards.
Identity theft was already a serious problem before the emergence of the Internet, and has been accentuated by the flow of electronic information that circulates every day on the network. Depending on the regulations of each country, in some cases only a couple of confidential data may be needed to steal an identity.
Seven Basic Tips for Preventing Identity Theft
Identity theft is a real risk, just as it is to be assaulted in the street, however that should not be a reason to give up the benefits of services offered on the Internet, such as banks, transfers, purchases, etc..
As in the real world, in the virtual world you can be safe if you take certain basic prevention and security measures. Surely you wouldn’t want to go to an ATM in the middle of the city’s most dangerous neighborhood at midnight… well, the same goes for Internet transactions. Below are some basic tips to help you stay risk-free in the virtual world of the Internet:
Use caution when opening emails. Email is a popular source for identity theft, specifically using a technique to obtain confidential information known as phishing. To take precautions, you can follow this guide to identify fake or phishing emails.
Use direct URLs to access bank pages. It’s a good idea to type in the URL of your bank’s website every time you want to access it. In other words, avoid clicking on links you receive in emails, as there is a possibility that some of these are fraudulent in origin.
Avoid using public computers. Avoid using public computers to access your bank accounts, credit cards, or credit applications in places such as public libraries, communal computers at work, Internet cafes, or the like. The risk is that usernames and passwords may be stored in cookies, which are a source of information sought by hackers. If you ever access a confidential information page on the Internet using a public computer, be sure to clear the browser’s history and temporary information. You can follow this step-by-step how to clear your history in Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Safari, or Opera.
Use strong passwords. Strong passwords are harder for hackers to crack. You can follow this guide to create a strong password.
Make safe purchases on the Internet. Follow these basic tips to shop safely on the Internet.
Never send personal information by email. Especially if it’s someone you don’t trust. As a general rule: never, under any circumstances, send passwords by email or instant messaging.
Take offline precautions as well. Follow the basic tips to protect your identity offline:
- Shred documents with confidential information, such as bank statements, before throwing them away.
- If you’re not going to use them, destroy the promotional credit card checks that come to you via email.
- Destroy your expired credit and debit cards, don’t throw them away carelessly.
- If you’re not going to use them, destroy “pre-approved” credit card forms before throwing them away.
- Avoid giving confidential information, such as social security numbers or license numbers, to salespeople or representatives who contact you by phone requesting this information. There is a large number of telephone frauds asking for confidential information so that “you can take advantage of this unique promotion”.
- What to do if you are a victim of identity theft?
It is certainly a difficult situation, especially because of the feeling of humiliation and insecurity with which the victims remain. The most important thing is to stay calm and follow one by one the necessary steps to fix things.
In the United States, you can visit the Identity Theft Resource Center or the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) Spanish-language page for guidance.
In other countries, identity theft is already typified as a crime punishable by law. Contact the appropriate authorities or bodies.