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23 December 2021
Hyperoptic Team

What is online identify theft, and how can you prevent it?

Online identity theft is something we’ve all heard of or seen a newspaper article about. But it’s easy to dismiss it when it hasn’t happened to you, and so you forget that you could fall victim to this crime.

Of course, you should always be wary when making your transactions at any time of the year to avoid such instances from occurring, it’s easy to get pulled into websites offering bargains that are almost too good to be true. And sometimes – they are.

So, what is this type of online theft, how can you stop it from happening and what tips can help you to stay vigilant when browsing the web? We’ve packed all this information into this useful and insightful blog post. Just read on to uncover more about this topic, which will make you more aware of cybercriminals.

What is identity theft online?

Online Identity theft is when a criminal gets access to your personal information, uses it to pose as you and, as a result, commits fraudulent activity. An identity fraud could seek out your date of birth, full name, address (and even prior addresses) to take out a new credit card or house tenancy, for example. And shockingly, this crime can still be perpetrated if someone is deceased.

The different ways scammers can try to steal your identity

Now you know what online identity theft is, you’ll also want to know what it entails if you were to become a victim of this crime. So, what are the methods scammers use to try and successfully steal your identity?

Posing as a company to steal your employment details

Although it’s not the first thing you’ll think of, your CV is filled with personal details such as your address, previous employment and contact details. This means if it falls into the wrong hands, you might be subject to online theft.

But what would an identity thief do with the information from your CV?

  1. Make purchases using your debit or credit cards that you’ve not authorised
  2. Open new debit or credit card accounts by stealing your identification information and using these accounts to spend your money
  3. Use your financial status and identity to pass an employment background check, or any checks performed to rent a house or flat.

So, if you’re applying for jobs online, ensure you’re uploading this important document to secure, well-known job websites like Indeed, Reed or Monster.

And don’t add extra details that aren’t entirely necessary, such as your job references, middle name, marital status and never add your national security number to your CV. That is a criminal’s paradise…

How would I know if my identity has been stolen?

To tell if your identity has been stolen, you’ll need to check a few things first – or be more aware of issues that could arise after this crime has been committed.

Here are the most notable instances to look out for:

Some of your documents are missing

If you’re searching endlessly around your home for your passport or driving licence but to no avail, check with those who live with you about your missing items.

If you’re a little unsettled and things aren’t how you left them, these identification documents could have been taken. In which case, you’ll need to report them missing right away, as identity thieves may be using them to take out a loan, insurance/car insurance or credit using your details.

You have an unexpected letter or parcel delivered to your address

Perhaps an expensive games console, smartphone or laptop has arrived at your door, but you didn’t order it? This is a prime example of online identity theft, as a scammer could’ve used your personal details to pay for goods they’ve ordered online.

Normally, the perpetrator of the crime would intercept this delivery before it arrives at your door. However, if they slip up, you’ll receive them at your door and be able to report the purchase of these items that were bought without your consent.

Your bank statement has unfamiliar payments on it

You should always regularly check your bank statements, whether this is through online banking or paper documents stating the transactions you make each month. This is particularly important for spotting identity theft, as if there’s a payment that you can’t recall making, you’re going to notice it quicker when reviewing your spending.

For instance, if a payment to a random company is listed on your bank statement, and for a hefty sum of money, you could be a victim of identity theft. And if this is the case, you must contact your bank immediately to report this fraudulent activity.

Your bins have been tampered with

If you’ve noticed someone has noticeably rummaged through your bin, or it’s been tampered with, that person may have stolen documents you’ve thrown away to commit identity fraud.

We obviously don’t want you to be afraid of taking your bins out, but if you feel that something just isn’t right when you go to throw away some rubbish, trust your gut instinct. Because someone could’ve taken papers with your address on it, or anything related to your identity, to pose as you for fraudulent reasons. Be sure to shred any important documents before throwing them away!

Learn more about cyber security and more

You can now use this information to ensure you don’t become a victim of identity theft and watch out for tell-tale signs of cyber-scammer behaviour.

Ensuring you have a secure broadband provider is another step towards protecting you from online identity theft. If you don’t already have hyperfast broadband, your safety and security are at the heart of what we do, so take a look at our deals and come aboard.

Browsing online should always be fun, so making yourself aware of some of the hidden dangers the internet can pose ensures you don’t fall victim to anything nasty. This leads us to our next point; if you’re hoping to read other useful articles on cybersecurity, head over to our insightful blog. You can discover helpful information on the dark web, as well as useful tips on what a phishing attack is and how to prevent it.

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