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Online Scams and Identity Theft

Deja Tyla Hansen Deja Tyla Hansen
30th October 2020
Online Scams and Identity Theft
Misbar can teach you how to avoid being scammed (Getty Images).

Note: The views and opinions expressed in blog/editorial posts are those of the author. They do not purport to reflect the views or opinions of Misbar.

In a world of misinformation, identity theft is sometimes just around the corner. With your information in the wrong hands, your identity, quality of life, financial stability, and assets can be in grave danger and lead to unwarranted side effects.

Learn how to protect yourself and start implementing some best practices immediately.  

Background: Identity Theft

Identity Theft is the result of an unauthorized party attaining your personal information and using it to open accounts, fill out credit applications, or commit various acts of fraud while acting as you. Identity Theft is a frequent occurrence affecting more than 14 million people per year.

When it comes to obtaining your personal information, there are a number of ways that criminals can get access to your information. For example, information may be retrieved physically off of bills, important paperwork, or through finding a lost social security card. Information can also be collected through the internet if your security measures are out of date or if you enter your data on a fraudulent site or program.

One of the most common ways people attempt to get your personal information is online scams. They’re scattered all over the internet and are commonly used in attempts to get your personal information through advertising free services or products. These scams may come in many different forms and types such as:

  • Online Dating Scams
  • Free weekend trip getaways
  • Fake Charities
  • Insurance Scams
  • Individuals acting as your bank
  • Sweepstakes and Competitions
  • Job and Employment Scams

Often these scams can be picked out of the bunch by their common misspelling or inaccuracies, but these days scammers are becoming more intelligent and practical in their scams. Nowadays, they are able to easily create fictious emails using the names and layouts of legitimate companies to send you fraudulent links that aim to get your personal information. Without knowledge of how to differentiate these scams, many people fall victim. In addition, with online dating, many people are posing as individuals they’re not, and hoping to gain your affections and money without ever having to commit or meet you in person.

Older individuals are also susceptible to health and insurance scams. Typically less familiar with technology, older individuals may get spam calls that request additional information and provide illegitimate individuals their personal information such as SSN, Debit Card information, and date of birth. All of these records could later be used against them to create accounts in their names.

Ways to detect Identity Theft

Sometimes there are common clues that can help you detect if your information has been compromised.

Some of these hints may include:

  • New credit accounts made in your name
  • Bills for services you didn't purchase
  • Unknown withdrawals or bank transfers
  • Misspelled or alarming spam messages

Impacts of Identity Theft

Many of you may have heard about identity theft, but sometimes it is difficult to understand the actual impacts of Identity Theft on your life.

Identity theft can affect your ability to qualify for credit cards and loans. If you have what looks like a record with tons of open accounts and unpaid debt, your credit score will be drastically affected making it difficult to purchase a new home or card. In addition, fraud may make it impossible for you to qualify for public programs and benefits. With all of this stress and the need to prove yourself, you may find yourself in a lawsuit and needing to mend any damages.

Even more, all of these compounded may result in overall stress, anxiety, and even depression.  

Preventing Identity Theft

While sometimes identity theft is out of your control, there are some measures you can take to help protect your information and get ahead of the problem.

Here are some ways to prevent identity theft:

  • Be sure your anti-virus software is up to date
  • Create strong passwords that no one can guess
  • Shred all documents prior to throwing them away
  • Don’t share your personal information
  • Collect your mail on a regular basis
  • Monitor accounts that are open in your name
  • Report and Block spam senders
  • Delete spam messages

In addition, if you know you’re not opening any new accounts or services, you can even take further action and freeze your credit files with popular credit agencies such as Equifax. This will allow you to approve all new accounts that are made in your name, ensuring there’s not any malicious activity.

Bottom Line

Your information is important and you need to ensure you’re taking the proper steps to avoid online scams and hackers trying to obtain your information. Keep in mind that these scams go beyond emails and may also include advertisements or phone calls. Stay cautious, stay alert, and stay aware.

Additional Information

If your information has already been compromised, learn more about how to protect yourself and recover your personal information online.