Lets talk numbers
On 2016 alone a whopping 3.1 million complaints has been recorded by The Consumer Sentinel Network and 1.3 Million from those complaints are related to fraud. This is equivalent to $745 million cost to consumers. And a significant percentage of all complaints were due to identity theft at 13%. All in all, identity theft has affected 15.4 million people with $16 billion stolen on 2016. This is not only limited to credit card fraud but also to new account frauds, where cyber criminals open a new account using other people’s personal information, such as name, birthdate and security number.
How does it happen?
As more and more people become dependent on electronic data, the rise of cybercrimes is expected to continue in the coming years. Cybercriminals nowadays are becoming more creative and smarter, looking at different opportunities, not just credit cards or social media like facebook or Instagram to steal information. There are even a lot of cases where the victim or the bank don’t even realize that the account is fake or compromised even after months or years. When you become a victim of identity theft, it is recommended to take immediate actions to control the damage that a cybercriminal can do to harm you further, whether by stealing your identity or your money.
In case of Identity Theft
- Ensure that you change your password for all your online accounts - from social media to emails. Make it unique for each account with 12 or more characters.
- Contact your bank to freeze your account so the cybercriminal wont be able to access your resources.
- Cancel each credit card and request new account numbers. Notify the company that someone might be using your card and check if there have been any unauthorized transactions.
- It’s good to be a little paranoid so think about all the other personal information that could have been exposed to the criminal and contact the agencies who might be impacted with this crime.
- You may want to report this to a local law enforcement agency for investigation.
How to avoid Identity Theft
- Watch out for any Phishing schemes where criminals can access your information.
- Secure your information on social media and do not divulge or post sensitive information that may be used by cybercriminals.
- Monitor your credit profile to ensure that someone is not using it.
- Install anti-virus and anti-malware to protect your device and system.
- Boost online security through a VPN service to secure your network and avoid cases of fraud and identity theft. This can help block malwares and make your navigation on public wi-fi safer.
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