How Do I Avoid Identity Theft?

While I realize this is not exactly golf related, it’s a subject that I think everyone, golfers included, should be thinking about. It can and likely will affect all of us at some point. Identity theft is a serious matter that needs to be addressed by all people.

The Short Identity Theft Prevention Guide

Identity theft is still the number one consumer crime in the United States today! This has led to a huge rise in demand for identity theft monitoring services. Here’s our short ‘DIY’ Identity Theft Prevention Guide to help you avoid becoming a victim of identity theft.

Most people these days have access to the Internet, either from home or from a public point such as an Internet cafe or library. This has resulted in an estimated 75% of the adult population using some form of internet banking to pay bills, transfer funds or simply to manage their day to day accounts. Although online banking is typically a very secure medium, which provides an exceptionally convenient service in comparison to physical branch banking, it also opens the door to the possibility of fraudulent attempts to access your account or personal details.

What Are ‘Phishing’ Attacks?

The most common type of this is known as ‘phishing’ and the most common form of ‘phishing’ attacks come in the form of emails. The recipient will receive a compromised email posing to be from a large institution or banking organisation, claiming there’s an issue with your account and asking you to log in. These emails frequently look like Ebay, Paypal and major banking companies. These high tech phishing emails are designed to perfectly replicate the authentic site it is trying to impersonate, even using logo’s, graphics and font types that you’d find on authentic emails.

Unknowing victims will then enter there personal details believing they are logging into their own account, when in fact they are providing the criminals with their account details, passwords and security questions! This is potentially very dangerous if it goes unnoticed as identity theft can literally ruin people’s lives.

A recent awareness of identity theft had led to most organisations tightening up security policies and has also meant that some email service providers can now filter out recognized phishing emails. The widely used MSN Hotmail service offers users the option of reporting suspicious emails as ‘phishing’ with the click of a single button. However the problem remains that the majority of identity fraud victims are unaware of the problem and it can often be years before they realize, with 53% of victims being between 18-39 years old.

How Can I protect Myself From These Attacks?

Generally you will receive an email appearing to be from a large organisation or company that you are familiar with, such as your bank, credit card provider or mortgage lender (More recently Ebay and Paypal style Phishing attacks have become more and more frequent). The email will explain there’s some sort of problem with your account, such as your password is expiring, or your address needs updating and asks you to log in immediately to avoid your account being frozen for security reasons.

By following a few crucial identity theft prevention steps you can avoid becoming a victim of ‘phishing’ attacks. Firstly do not put your login details or passwords in to any email requests, regardless how professional they look. If you are unsure, open a new Internet window and type in the web address of the company by hand before logging in. This way you will be certain that you are putting your details in to the authentic site. Although no financial institution will ever ask you for personal details via email!

Another really effective tip is to look at the address bar in your internet browser. You will see that the ‘http’ found at the beginning of the web address will become ‘https’ on secure websites. If there’s no ‘S’ on the web address, the site is not secure and you should certainly not enter any credit or debit card numbers!

You should remember that offline security is just as important as online, so shred your personal letters and never leave your cards in public view. Also never let a waiter or bar-person take your card out of your site. A sophisticated piece of machinery known as a credit card skimmer will record the details of your card in one single swipe!

In this article we’ve discussed the implications of ‘phishing’ attacks and how it might affect you. Awareness is the key to avoiding identity theft, but there are many more advanced techniques thieves are using to steal your identity!

The tips in this article are taken from a new Identity Theft ebook The Max Black Report which explains the new and emerging threats to your identity in 2016 and beyond, then provides effective defensive strategies you can begin to use instantly!