Yahoo has been hacked. LinkedIn has been hacked. Accounts have been stolen. Identities have been stolen.
Identity theft is said to have taken place when personally identifying information such as your name, date of birth, credit card details, bank account information, passwords, PINs or Social Security Number have been stolen and used for committing fraud and other criminal activities.
Has Your Identity Been Stolen? Are You a Victims of Identity Theft?
Beware! If you have already been a victim then you know the consequences. But if your identity has not yet been stolen then consider yourself lucky. Identity thieves can assume another person’s identity and obtain identification documents and also do crimes as another person. Most identity theft involves takeover of existing accounts and using them for fraudulent activities.
Using the stolen information cyber criminals could make money transfers in bank accounts or use the stolen card credentials to make purchases.
Hackers have broken into many prominent computer networks – Yahoo, Mozilla, LinkedIn, Oracle, the Democratic National Committee, Anthem, Target, Heartland, US Military, Ebay, AOL, etc…, and stolen data. And many of these websites would have had the maximum security possible, but even then they had got hacked through some exploit and stolen personally identifying information.
Identities can also be stolen in other ways. If somehow, a hacker has infiltrated your device or network then they could install a keylogger that could discreetly log all keystrokes and steal data.
How to Stay Protected Against Identity Theft
In many cases identity theft can be easily detected. If unauthorized charges have been made to your card account then it can be reversed as long as it reported quickly enough. MasterCard, Visa and others offer monetary protection in case the card has been stolen and fraudulently used.
Google and others offer a second-factor authentication for logging into accounts. Some bank accounts offer multiple authentication procedures. Wherever they are offered opt for them immediately. Have no second thoughts about it. It is a good protective measure.
In this authentication procedure the entity – say the bank – will send a code (say OTP – one time password) via text message to the registered mobile phone number. This would be required for performing any fund transfers or bill payments. Hence, unless the cyber criminal has gotten hold of the smart phone the account is safe.
Further opt for periodic balance alerts for your account. This would help alert if any suspicious activity has taken place. Banks by default have to send alerts about any debit transactions.
In the USA credit bureaus offer a free copy of your credit report once a year. Obtain this report and analyze if any unauthorized transactions have taken place.
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