Have you ever received an email from a friend, colleague or acquaintance claiming they were robbed of all possessions and stranded in a foreign country? All they need from you is money to buy a return ticket home and they would pay back on return. Or have you ever received a similar email from someone claiming they have a deal for you after you wire them some money?
Have you ever been locked out of your email or facebook account? You enter you information but discover you cannot log in?
Did you know that if someone stole your bank, they don’t need your PIN number to empty your bank account? Assuming your card is VISA enabled, a thief can use your card to pay for purchase on the internet. Before you know it, you bank account is empty.
All these scenarios are examples of identity theft. Identity theft is a form of stealing someone’s identity in which someone pretends to be someone else by assuming that person’s identity, typically in order to access resources or obtain credit and other benefits in that person’s name.
The victim of identity theft (here meaning the person whose identity has been assumed by the identity thief) can suffer adverse consequences if they are held accountable for the perpetrator’s actions. Identity theft occurs when someone uses your personally identifying information, like your name, email, social networking ID or credit card number, without your permission, to commit fraud or other crimes.
So how do they steal your information?
(i) Shoulder surfers
When entering a PIN number or a credit card number in an ATM machine, in a website, or even on a computer at the cyber cafe, be aware of who is nearby peering over your shoulder to make a note of the keys you’re pressing.
(ii)Open web sessions
Every time you log into your online account, (i.e Google, Yahoo, Facebook), there is chance of forgetting to log out when done. This allows the next user access to your account. A malicious person can easily change your password thus blocking you out of your own account.
(iii) Un secured computers
Using public computers can expose your sensitive data to thieves. By public computers I mean computers which are used by many people either at work or in public places. Since you cannot secure the computer with a password, it may be impossible to have privacy on such computers.
(iv) Stolen Data
Storing your passwords and PIN numbers in notebooks and diaries is a very careless habit. Imagine what would happen if you lost your diary or had it stolen. You would be exposing your sensitive data.
(v) Phishing Sites
Websites or pages set up to mimic other legitimate websites in order to steal login information. For example, some hackers send you an email claiming Facebook wants you to confirm your login information. The moment you enter your details, you have just surrendered them to a hacker.
Key loggers are basically computer programs which work in the background collecting or recording all the transactions on a particular computer. For instance a key logger may follow all the websites you visit recoding all the data you entered or search queries you made. Key loggers are used by thieves to collect your personal details such as credit card numbers, PIN codes or passwords so they can later log into your account without your knowledge.
How to Guard your information online
These days, many of us spend a lot of time online, surfing, socializing, shopping and banking on the web. With all those account numbers and passwords floating around, it’s easy for someone to nab your info.
Here is how you can protect yourself and information:
• Change logins and passwords regularly.
• Do not buy anything from unknown websites
• Always verify that you’re on a familiar Web site with security controls before entering personal data.
• Monitor your bank and credit card statements. Check your accounts regularly.
• Remember to sign out especially if you’ve been working on a public computer.
• Shred sensitive documents such as outdated bank statements, ATM receipts, bills, and anything with your personal information before tossing it into the trash.
There you have it.