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Top 9 Ways Identity Thieves Rip You Off And What You Can Do About It

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Top 9 Ways Identity Thieves Rip You Off And What You Can Do About It

It is an unfortunate reality that, given the state of our society, we are forced to approach everything with skepticism and expect the worst from people. The days of blindly trusting someone’s intentions and constantly fearing being exploited are over. While some still hold onto the belief that individuals are inherently good and hope to maintain an open and trusting demeanor, current circumstances force most of us to reevaluate our approach.

In today’s technological age, it is critical that we remain vigilant in protecting our financial information. Whether we are engaging in online banking, shopping, or bill payment, we must be fully aware of the potential vulnerabilities and the ways in which criminals could gain access to our sensitive data.

Identity theft is a serious issue that should never be overlooked. It can lead to financial losses, emotional distress, and even damage to one’s reputation. Recognizing the significance of securing our personal financial data and understanding the repercussions of identity theft, we can take proactive measures to prevent it.

Let’s look at some of the most common methods used by perpetrators to commit identity theft and discuss strategies for protecting ourselves from these predators in order to avoid falling victim to their schemes! Here are the most common ways identity thieves rip you off and what you can do about it.

Identity Theft Strategies And Preventative Measures

Phishing emails and fake websites

Phishing is a method used by criminals to deceive people into believing that they registered on an actual website of any company worldwide, thus gathering information from you like your username, password, credit card number or social security number through any form of communication. This includes emails, messages, calling, texting or direct overseas calls that appear to be genuine in nature.

To avoid falling prey to phishing, follow these tips:

  • Beware of suspicious or unusual elements in email/URL structures, such as misspellings, extra characters, or inconsistent domain names.
  • Verify the authenticity of the sender’s email address or URL domain for signs of inconsistency.
  • Look out for grammar and spelling errors, as legitimate organizations typically have high communication standards.
  • Be cautious of emails or URLs that request personal information and create a sense of urgency.

2  Physical theft and dumpster diving

Thieves employ various tactics to obtain personal information through physical theft or dumpster diving. Here are some common tactics to be aware of:

  1. Shoulder surfing: is the act of watching or listening to someone enter their PIN or other private information at an ATM, payment terminal or other public area in order to memorize the information for later use.
  2. Theft from person: theft or attempted theft from a victim’s person, such as pocket picking, bag snatch or purse snatching; the offense takes place in a public space such as a restaurant, shop, bus stop, or other public transportation facility.
  3. Interception of mail: Burglars can obtain recently delivered items, like bank statements, credit card statements, or personal checks, by opening unlocked mailboxes or swiping mail slots.
  4. Dumpster diving: Shoplifters fumble in trash receptacles, garbage cans, recycling bins, or rubbish dumps, searching for rejected items that contain some form of written expression of personal identity, such as bank statements, credit card offers, medical bills and so on.
  5. Burglary: Thieves break into homes or offices, or pillage cars in order to steal network components such as laptops, memory sticks, documents and information, sometimes taking hard drives in order to extract data on the spot.

To protect yourself from these tactics, take these precautions:

  • Keep personal belongings secure, and never leave them unattended in public.
  • Cover your PIN when using ATMs or payment terminals.
  • Use strong passwords for online accounts, and be cautious when sharing information.
  • Regularly monitor financial statements for unauthorized transactions.
  • Protect credit cards and passports with RFID-blocking wallets.
  • Safeguard classified papers in secure areas.
  • Shred documents with personal information before disposal.
  • Secure mailboxes and consider electronic statements.
  • Install security systems like video cameras and alarms.

3 Data breaches and compromised accounts

Let’s face it, even when you’ve done all you can to protect your personal and financial information, companies you do business with that possess your information can still fall victim to a data breach or compromised account. While your information may unwittingly end up in the wrong hands, there are still steps you can take to mitigate the damage.

To protect yourself from these risks:

  • Have unique passwords made up of upper- and lower-case letters, numbers and special characters. Do not use something easy, like a name or birthdate. Every account should have a unique password, as otherwise you lose them all if one account is hacked.
  • Use two-factor authentication (2FA) where possible, which requires an additional form of logging in (such as a code texted to a phone) in addition to your password.
  • Check your accounts, credit reports and online statements on a regular basis so that you can spot problems quickly.
  • Report any suspicious activity to your financial institution or relevant authorities immediately.

4  Skimming devices at ATMs and gas stations

Whenever you swipe your card at an ATM or gas station, there is a good chance that there is a skimming device attached to the machine. This could put your financial security at risk due to the fact that these skimmers can be used to steal credit or debit card numbers.

To protect yourself, be vigilant and adopt these preventive measures: 

  • Always check ATMs and gas station pumps for signs of tampering, such as loose card readers or unusual attachments.
  • Shield your PIN entry with your hand or other objects to prevent hidden cameras from recording it.
  • If something looks suspicious or doesn’t feel right, it’s best to find an alternative machine or report the issue to the respective authorities.

5 Social engineering and phone scams

Online fraudsters frequently use social engineering and phone scams to trick people into disclosing private information or jeopardizing their security. To avoid falling victim, it’s important to be aware of warning signs like urgent requests for personal or financial information, unsolicited calls/emails from unfamiliar sources, and attempts to create fear or urgency.

To protect yourself:

  • Be cautious about sharing personal information over the phone or through email.
  • Never provide sensitive information to unsolicited callers or respond to suspicious emails.
  • Verify the legitimacy of any requests by contacting the organization directly using trusted contact information.
  • Educate yourself and your loved ones about common social engineering techniques to stay one step ahead of these scams.
  • By being vigilant and skeptical, you can greatly reduce the risk of becoming a victim of social engineering attacks.

6 Fake Wi-Fi networks and public Wi-Fi risks

Fake Wi-Fi networks pose significant risks to online security. Cybercriminals create these networks in public places to trick users into connecting. Once connected, criminals can intercept sensitive information like login credentials and financial details.

To stay safe:

  • Secure your Wi-Fi connections and avoid unsecured networks.
  • Only connect to networks that require a secure password or are from reputable sources.
  • Avoid networks with generic names like “Free Wi-Fi” or “Public Network,” as they may be fake.
  • Consider using a virtual private network (VPN) for added security.
  • Ensure your devices have updated security software.
  • Disable automatic connections to Wi-Fi networks as well.

7 Malware and malicious software

Malware is a serious threat to computer systems and user security. It includes software designed to infiltrate, damage, or gain unauthorized access to a system. Common types of malware are viruses, worms, Trojans, ransomware, and spyware.

To protect your devices and data:

  • Use reputable antivirus software.
  • Regularly update it to combat the latest threats.
  • Be cautious when downloading files from the internet.
  • Stick to trusted sources and verify file integrity before opening.

8 Impersonation scams and imposter fraud

Impersonation scams and imposter fraud involve criminals posing as someone else to deceive and exploit unsuspecting individuals. They pretend to be authority figures, company representatives, or trusted acquaintances to trick victims into sharing personal information or sending money.

To protect yourself:

  • Verify the identity of unexpected contacts by researching their information independently or contacting the organization they claim to represent.
  • Avoid sharing sensitive personal or financial details unless you are sure of the request’s legitimacy.
  • Be cautious of urgent or overly persuasive requests, as scammers often use these tactics to pressure victims into hasty decisions.

9 Social media and oversharing personal information

Social media platforms are an essential part of our lives, offering connection and self-expression. However, it’s important to protect our privacy by being mindful of the personal information we share online. Oversharing can lead to risks like identity theft, stalking, and targeted advertising.

To stay private:

  • Regularly review privacy settings.
  • Limit visibility to trusted friends.
  • Be cautious with friend requests.
  • Use strong passwords and two-factor authentication.
  • Avoid sharing sensitive data like addresses and financial details.

Contact Loker Law For Identity Theft Help Today

If you are a victim of identity theft, know that you did nothing wrong. These identity theft criminals are internet businesspeople. They’ve chosen this line of work, and they’re good at it. They may already be one step ahead of you right now, which is all the more reason why this next important step you have to take is so important. Throughout this process, remember that waiting or doing nothing can never be an option.

You need to act, and you need to act now. The more you wait, the more damage they can do to your identity. Give Loker Law the chance to help you minimize that damage, and help you get your life back. Don’t delay – give us a call today to schedule your free case evaluation.

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