Warning signs of identity theft and 5 tips to help protect yourself
July 18, 2022
Identity theft occurs when someone uses your personal identifying information and pretends to be you in order to commit fraud or to gain other financial benefits.
Your personal identifying information could include your full name, home address, email address, online login and passwords, driver’s license number, passport number, or bank number. Once thieves access this information, they may use it to commit identity theft or sell it on the dark web.
What is identity theft?
Whether an identity thief overhears you reading out your credit card number on the phone, buys your information on the dark web after it has been exposed in a data breach, or steals your information some other way, there are a lot of ways to access your personal details. Using that information is the next phase in the identity-theft process.
Here are some examples of what identity thieves might do with your sensitive personal information.
- Make unauthorised purchases using your existing credit and debit cards.
- Get access to your bank account
- Subscribe to paid services like streaming pages or premium dating portals under your name and with your payment information
- Open up a mobile phone contract with your information
Norton Identity Advisor Plus:
Help with identity theft starts here.
How does Identity Theft work?
Data gathered by Finanso.se, revealed that 56% of Europeans have experienced at least one type of fraud in the last two years. One third of them were victims of identity theft, which is quite a lot. But how exactly does ID theft work?
Identity thieves may access your personal information in different ways, namely:
- Wi-Fi hacking
- Phone scams
- Data breaches
Five tips to help protect against identity theft
There is good news, though. You can reduce the odds that you'll be a target of identity theft. It just requires taking caution and looking for signs of trouble.
Here are 5 easy tips you can follow today to turn yourself into a more challenging target for identity thieves in 2022.
1. Get a product like Norton Identity Advisor Plus
Norton Identity Advisor Plus which has Dark Web Monitoring, Social Media Monitoring, and Identity Restoration Support to help with Identity theft. In case of Identity theft, your Identity Restoration Specialist will help guide you through the restoration process from start to finish.
2. Regularly check your online bank and credit card accounts
When cybercriminals steal your identity, they often use the information to break into your online bank and credit card accounts – after all they probably paid up to 40€ for the login. It’s important, then, to regularly check these accounts for suspicious purchases.
Spot a charge you don’t recognize or a transfer you didn’t authorize? That could be a sign that a criminal has accessed your accounts. If you notice something suspicious, call your bank or credit card provider immediately. If you act quickly, you can close your accounts and receive new log-in credentials before any more damage is done.
3. Watch out for phishing attempts
Phishing, in which a scammer tries to trick you into giving up personal information, is one of the most common ways to fall victim to identity theft.
In a phishing attempt, you’ll usually receive an email message or text that looks like it has been sent by a bank, streaming service, credit card provider or other organization. The message might state that you need to click on a link to avoid having your account closed or to verify a recent purchase.
If you click on the link, you’ll be taken to another web page that asks you to provide personal information such as your Social Security number, account numbers, or birthdate. Once criminals get this information, they can use it to break into your online accounts or steal your identity.
Never provide personal information by text or email. Your bank or credit card provider will never ask for this information by email or text. If you receive such a message, delete it immediately. If you’re still nervous, you can contact the customer-information number at your service provider to see if there really is a problem you need to respond to.
4. Password-protect your devices
What happens if you lose your phone or laptop or if they get stolen? A scammer could open your devices and find any personal or financial information you have stored on them. That’s why it’s important to password-protect them. If your laptop or smartphone is protected by a password, it’s less likely that whoever ends up with your devices will manage to unlock them.
Also consider this: Use passwords that are difficult to guess and don’t use the same ones at multiple sites. The best passwords include a combination of at least 12 letters, numbers, and symbols. The more complex you make your passwords, the more difficult it will be for hackers to crack them.
5. Enable two-factor authentication:
Two-factor authentication is one of the easiest ways to make it more difficult for others to access your most important online accounts.
When you sign into your online bank account or credit card portal, you’ll need to first log-in as normal with your username and password. But you’ll then receive a code —often six digits — sent to your phone. Before you can finish logging into your account, you’ll need to enter this code.
This extra step might seem like a hassle, but it makes it much more difficult for thieves to break into your online accounts.
Reporting identity theft
Reporting identity theft can help bring criminals to justice and help keep your information safe. You should also make sure, that you act quickly in order to ensure that you are not liable for any financial losses.
- Make sure to report all of your stolen documents, like passports or credit cards.
- Contact your bank and credit card company to inform them of any unusual transactions on your statement.
- Report the theft of personal documents and suspicious credit applications to the police and ask for a crime reference number.
On top of the above you might also want to contact Action Fraud. Action Fraud is the UK national reporting centre for fraud and cybercrime where you should report fraud if you have been scammed, defrauded or experience cybercrime in England, Wales or Northern Ireland.
Stealing your identity can be easy.
Good thing calling us is, too.
Editorial note: Our articles provide educational information for you. NortonLifeLock offerings may not cover or protect against every type of crime, fraud, or threat we write about. Our goal is to increase awareness about cyber safety. Please review complete Terms during enrollment or setup. Remember that no one can prevent all identity theft or cybercrime, and that LifeLock does not monitor all transactions at all businesses.
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