No, we are not talking about some thief reaching into your pocket and stealing your wallet. We are referring to ID theft of a more sinister nature, yes, you've guessed, we are referring to e-criminals who have developed innovative strategies to steal your personal data without you ever finding out about it. Unbelievable, you say? Believe it! If you don't, you may end losing more than just your identity in the end.
Without further or due, outlined are some of the most popular means of stealing personal information:
Phishing: In this scam, you receive an email from your bank, or perhaps your credit card company. In many scenarios, you will be notified that there is an issue with your bank account/credit card account. Within the body of the email there may be a link to fake website designed in a similar manner to your bank's website, moreover, the instructions in the email direct you to insert your username and password so that this discrepancy could be resolved. When you attempt to log-in, a program in the background makes record of your username and password. Once criminals have access to your online banking credentials, they can redirect funds to different accounts, and it would be too late before you are informed or find out yourself.
What can you do? Don't click on the link. Instead, go to your bank's website directly and then log-in, if you suspect foul play, call your bank immediately.
Pretexting: You get a call from your bank, "Sir, there is an issue with your account, In order to resolve it, we need to know your social security number, and we will have it fixed in no-time" normally a call like this wouldn't ring bells in your head, but it should.
What should you do? Don't disclose any such information to the man or the woman calling you over the phone, instead, tell them, you'll call them back later, hang-up and call your bank directly and notify them about the call you have just received. The bank will use this information and inform other customers about such scams to raise vigilance.
Fake job offer: You get a phone call, "Sir, you have been shortlisted for head of marketing at ABC Inc., but before we move any further, I would like to conduct a quick interview over the phone, if you don't mind." Your answer would naturally be: "Go right ahead!" After you've been interviewed, you'll be told that the interview went great, and all they need to get from you is your social security number and they can schedule you for a final interview sometime next week. An average naive candidate will naturally give them their social security number.
What to do in this scenario: once again, never give out your social security number over the phone, be informed, employers never ask for your social security numbers unless you are hired.
Data Breaches: This method is perhaps the most effective method of stealing personal information on victims. Hackers can log-into your computer and skim through personal data, such as copies of: tax returns, passports and driver's licenses.
How should you defend yourself? The only way you can defend yourself is to install data protection software which enables you to organize and password protect folder containing such sensitive material.
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Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.