In the digital age, there’s more information online about us than ever before. Thanks to social media, it’s easy to find information about people with just a simple Google search. Whether you’re active on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or all of the above, chances are that there’s accessible information about you somewhere on the web. It’s hard to be completely anonymous these days.
But even with people’s lives displayed transparently on the Internet, the truth is that we’re ultimately in control of the most info we share. While folks share countless selfies, their work history, and photos of what’s for dinner, there’s still a level of privacy to uphold. For example, your banking credentials and Social Security Number should never be posted online – it’s generally well-known that something bad could happen if someone got a hold of these details.
While it might be a best practice to never release this sensitive information, it’s still possible for people to get a hold of it. Since banking, government paperwork, and other personal tasks are typically completed online nowadays, this means that hackers may steal these details from you with malicious intent.
Identity theft affects millions of Americans every year, and according to Forbes, almost all cases of this crime are carried out online today. It occurs when a criminal steals your identity by gaining access to your personally identifiable information (PII). Armed with this sensitive info, they can commit fraud. Thieves are interested in a variety of identification documents such as driver’s licenses, credit card details, passports, tax information, and passwords.
How It Happens
What tactics are used to obtain valuable data? There are a variety, but one of the most common is a practice known as phishing. By pretending to be a legitimate banking service, service provider or another trusted sender, fraudsters send their targets an email or text tricking them into providing their personal details.
There are many other methods used to steal your information online, though, many of them resulting from system hacking. Once nasty malware is installed on your device, it’s easy for criminals to gain access to whatever they wish.
How to Prevent It
Thankfully, there are some ways to prevent these mischievous attacks. Protecting your information is crucial to shield yourself from identity theft and a range of other privacy invasions. Here’s what you can do:
- Get a VPN service, which will connect you to a private network so you can browse anonymously online
- Install anti-malware software on your device, to defend against hackers and various forms of malware
- Avoid opening messages from unknown senders, whether they be texts or emails
- Don’t click on links from untrusted sources, such as persistent pop-ups online
- Learn more about online best practices to take into account while surfing the web
Online identity theft is an ominous, growing threat in today’s digital world. But you aren’t defenseless against this crime. Armed with information, protective software, and a private VPN, you’ll be better equipped to prevent identity theft from happening to you.