Identity Theft Protection

Identity Theft: Threats and Mitigation

identity theft

The Impact of Identity Theft in the 21st Century

Modern technology has led to an unparalleled rise in the electronic theft of personal data. An ID thief can accomplish this rather dubious intention in any number of ways. All of his or her methods can result in illegal purchases on a credit card leading to a damaging credit score, the compromising of bank account data, the replication of personal identification and even the purchase of drugs or other illegal items via the internet. It is important to understand how such thefts can occur.

One popular method is what is known as email phishing. a fraudster will send an email to an individual claiming to be a trusted bank or financial institution and ask the bearer to confirm his or her personal details or his credit report. Should the individual comply, the data can be easily stolen.

Another trick is to call an individual and claim that he or she has won a foreign lottery. Once again, personal banking details will be asked in order to wire the supposed "funds" to an account.

More sophisticated data mining can take place as well. This is accomplished by hacking directly into an email account and searching for any sensitive data that can be used to purchase credit cards or otherwise falsify a form of personal identification. The end results of these types of ID theft are all the same. At the very least, personal data may be corrupted. In worst case scenarios, the victim may lose a considerable amount of money or even be investigated by the authorities.

Some of the more common forms of this type of theft include:
  • Email phishing.
  • Fake lottery scams.
  • A personal attack on a private email account.

Solutions Against Identity Theft

Should one believe that they may have fallen victim to such a scam, the first step is to report the incident immediately to any institution whose cards may have been compromised. This will most likely result in the immediate cancellation of a credit card or the freezing of an account but it can help prevent an unrecoverable loss of funds.

Secondly, this type of fraud should be reported to the appropriate state and federal agencies. There are numerous websites that can help in this reporting phase and although the Federal Bureau of Investigation takes these crimes quite seriously, state agencies and institutions may be able to help uncover the fraud as well.

Finally, all online passwords should be changed. This is an important step with any form of identity theft protection. Most robust email servers will allow for this to take place quickly.

The immediate steps that should be taken are:
  • Reporting the event to any relevant financial institutions.
  • Contacting state and federal anti-fraud agencies.
  • A rapid change of passwords and other entry data.

Finally, there are a few tricks to help make certain that the chances of falling victim to this form of theft are minimal. First, utilize lengthy passwords for all personal online accounts. Never answer any unverified emails from financial institutions. Finally, do not visit websites that may contain blind links, as these may install spyware on your computer or even your smartphone.

To review, some of the most important steps to take are:
  • Use strong and lengthy passwords.
  • Never answer unsolicited emails.
  • Avoid visiting sites known for blind links.