The top five defenses against identity theft
Identity theft is a very common crime and happens very frequently. There are many things you could do to make it more difficult for your identity to be stolen. The top five things you could do to prevent your identity being stolen are:
- Check your credit reports and credit history very frequently (Or subscribe to a credit reporting service which notifies you each time your identity is used or checked. In certain countries there are laws which prohibit credit checking without compliance – You will have to actually prosecute illegal activity on your credit profile to ensure that syndicates know and understand that you are not an easy target)
- Be hyper aware and pay attention to incoming phone calls, incoming emails and incoming messages in order to understand when your identity is a target and have a professional investigate, question and research the origin of such communications. – Criminals are like cockroaches, when you shine a light on them, they scatter! – If you arrive at the place they sleep and when they know you know their identity, they are less likely to attack. Of course many criminals are not that bright and you may have to bring criminal complaints and prosecute them either in civil or in criminal courts.
- Update your security questions, 2FA, passwords, passphrases and other data used to verify your identity online, on a regular basis. Do not use obvious or predictable answers, for example if the security question is : What is the name of your first pet? Your answer could be: The moon is not exactly round but more like a sphere. (if there is a restriction on the length of your answer, you can simply use the maximum number of characters, most systems should cut of your answer in the same place when providing the full answer…)
- Be hyper aware each time you are asked to provide ANY personal information. There are two main reasons for this :
- If you are in public talking on your phone, someone may be actively listening to your conversation (or your ‘smart’ phone may have spyware)
- The person you are speaking to may be great at social engineering (not whomever you think you are speaking to)
- Be aware of any unsolicited contact and pay attention to the anti scams three “W” – Why? Who? Want?
- Why are they claiming to contact you? (Did you win a prize, are they updating your credit card details or informing you of fraud – You are either asked to provide information or being given information)
- Who are they claiming to be? (You either recognize whom they are claiming to be or you do not)
- What do they claim to want? (They either want to give you something or they want you to give them something)
Scammers work alone or in groups. Some criminals specialize in providing services to scammers or to groups of scammers.
There are many different types of scams and identity theft is only one component of certain types of scams.