by Cynthia Eze
As the world keeps evolving, technology continues to improve lives, and simplify business processes. Our personal data is everywhere, and providing information like passwords and account numbers to access online accounts is something many of us do almost every day. Unfortunately, whenever we provide our PII (Personal Identifiable Information), we are taking some level of risk that a criminal could steal and misuse it
Identity theft (also known as identity fraud) refers to crimes in which someone wrongfully uses someone else’s personally identifiable information (in a way that involves fraud or deception, usually for financial gain).
This practice can be achieved through forms of crimes, such as credit card fraud, account acquisition, phishing, hacking, social media fraud, impersonation, and ransomware attacks, and tech support fraud. PII includes information like your date of birth, credit and bank account numbers, passwords, identification numbers, telephone numbers, and biometric data like fingerprints and scans. PII is anything that can be used to identify you.
Identity theft is a crime that grows every day, with someone becoming a victim essentially every day. It’s important to take steps to protect yourself or your business. Otherwise, these criminals can steal sensitive information about you and commit crimes.
Reducing the rate of identity theft depends primarily on how cautious you are in guarding your privacy. Here are the top 5 ways to securing your digital identity.
From time to time, we all receive questionable emails. Start by examining the sender’s email address to confirm it’s from a legitimate domain name, or by spotting grammatical errors in the body copy.
Although some of these phishing scams are easy to identify, other phishing attempts in an email, social media sites or websites can look really legitimate. Avoid clicking any link sent to you. If the email says it’s from your bank and has all the right logos and knows your name, it may be from your bank – or it may not be. Instead of using the link provided, use a search engine to visit the site. This way, you will know you landed on the legitimate site and not some mocked-up site.
According to the FTC, a secure password is unique, complex, and long. Never use the same logins across multiple sites. Avoid using passwords related to your birthday or any related initials. Remember that hackers can test up to 10 billion password combinations in seconds. Also, enable Two-Factor Authentications (2FA) which requires you to verify your identity by entering a unique code you receive via text message or email — this is equally important.
No matter where you like to shop online, always pay attention to the URL address. The address should include an “s” after “http.” That S character is very important. It stands for “secure”. Any data transmitted is sent through an extra layer of security.
Before you shop from any site, make sure the site belongs to a reputable company. Review the site? Do they have a strong rating Do they use a secure, encrypted connection for personal and financial information?
Most of the dynamic digital attacks take advantage of vulnerabilities in outdated operating systems. Know that reliable security software can protect your device. Also, be sure that all operating system updates are installed.
Legitimate websites or applications never request your private data via email or phone (passwords, card details, etc.). Hackers are always looking for an opportunity to extract such important information. Requests like that should be recognized with immediate suspicion.