Identity theft is a type of fraud that involves using someone else’s identity to steal money or gain other benefits.
Common examples of identity theft methods
- Phishing – the scammer tricks you into handing over your personal information.
- Hacking – the scammer gains access to your information by exploiting security weaknesses on your computer, mobile device or network.
- Remote access scams – the scammer tricks you into giving access to your computer and paying for a service you don’t need.
- Malware & ransomware – the scammer installs software on your computer that allows them to access your files or watch what you are doing on your computer.
- Fake online profiles – the scammer sets up a fake profile on a social media or dating site and sends you a ‘friend’ or ‘connection’ request
- Document theft – the scammer get access to your private information through unlocked mailboxes or discarded personal documents such as utility bills, insurance renewals or health care records.
- You receive an email, text or a phone call out of the blue asking you to ‘validate’ or ‘confirm’ your personal details by clicking on a link or opening an attachment. The message contains grammatical errors and is poorly written.
- There are unexpected pop-ups on your computer or mobile device asking if you want to allow software to run.
- You receive a friend request from someone you don’t know on social media.
- You are unable to log into your social media or email account, or your profile has been logged into from an unusual location.
- You notice that amounts of money go missing from your bank account without any explanation or an application for a loan or credit card has been declined.
- Do not open suspicious texts or emails – delete them.
- Verify the identity of the contact by calling the relevant organisation directly – find them through an independent source such as a phone book or online search. Do not use the contact details provided in the message sent to you.
- Never send money or give credit card, online account details or copies of personal documents to anyone you don’t know or trust and never by email.
- Choose passwords that would be difficult for others to guess, and update them regularly. Don’t use the same password for every account, and don’t share them with anyone.
- Secure your networks and devices with anti-virus software and a good firewall. Avoid using public computers or WiFi hotspots to access or provide personal information.
- Be very careful about how much personal information you share on social network sites. Scammers can use your information and pictures to create a fake identity or to target you with a scam.
- Put a lock on your mailbox and shred or destroy any documents containing personal information before disposing of them.