If identity thieves used use their ingenuity to help the world rather than commit crimes, they would probably be regarded as some of the world’s most constructive geniuses. Over the years, many different complex and “unbeatable” security systems have been created. Identity thieves still end up finding a way to break in, especially if there’s easy money to steal available. No matter how effective we thought security systems were, fraudsters always figure out an entry point and make it possible for them and their colleagues to steal personal information to their hearts’ content. Expert software engineers come up with new anti-identity theft software; ingenuous thieves easily come up with a better solution – it’s a constant ebb and flow that feels like has no end in sight.
Just as you think that there is no stopping this cycle, a new method says that there might just be a way to ultimately put an end to identity theft. The best way to deal with these crimes right now is to protect what we currently have and continue improving current security system. With this being said, you should be knowledgeable about different ways identity thieves execute their fraudulent acts. There are many identity-stealing methods you might not be aware of, and there are practically limitless additional ways that aren’t discussed below. Still, here are some of the more “popular” ID theft scams and backdoors to look out for.
- Frequent flier promotions
One thing is clear. These criminals are mainly up to stealing and they won’t take anything that has no value. For an identity thief, your dog’s photos might not be of much use. They would consider something that you use often, though, including essential details about you and the assets that you own. In case you don’t know, even your use of frequent flier miles promotions can be a keyhole for them.
Near the end of 2014, for example, the Associated Press revealed that both American and United Airlines accounts were infiltrated by hackers. Authorities found out that there have been multiple instances where the thieves were able to get free flights as well as seat upgrades. They did this by stealing the clients’ login information and manipulating their accounts. Because of actions like this, we strongly advise that you always see to it that the privacy and safety measures of your online credentials are updated regularly and follow good password best practices. Also, you will have to modify your passwords often. Bear in mind that hackers will have a hard time hacking your accounts if your passwords are suitably complex.
- Health Insurance
Did you know identity thieves will even tap into your healthcare insurance, since they consider practically everything inside it as an asset? Owing money might seem like something they wouldn’t want to hijack, but since medical bills for uninsured people is so expensive, fraudsters see stealing a member’s insurance plan as a lucrative endeavor. Although these thieves will consume the benefits you have available for medical services, the worst thing they do is trick people who owe medical bills into sending money to the criminal instead. Account owners won’t even know someone is using their insurance plans until they suddenly receive communication saying they haven’t been paying their medical costs. To stay on-guard against this, you should vigilantly check your insurance accounts on a regular basis.
- Company communication tools
In this day and age, most companies are already using their own inter-office communication system – Slack, Skype and HipChat are prime examples. Several months before, these and other company communication tools have been targets for data breaches. Hackers are capable of stealing usernames, passwords, email addresses, contact information, login IDs and more. Needless to say, this can be very risky not only for the person who’s details are stolen but also to the company as a whole. To safeguard against this, you and your coworkers should be changing passwords often.
If you can no longer access your account and you don’t know why, there is a large possibility that it has been infiltrated by a type of program called “Ransomware”. These are viruses that enable hackers to access your device and encrypt files so you can’t use them anymore. These criminals then hold the device’s system ransom. Owners won’t be able to regain access until they pay for them in the form of money or important information. Remember that once such viruses have already penetrated your device, it will be very difficult to find solutions, though very savvy technicians can remove the blocks.
Still, you should pay close attention to preventive measures. You can do this by keeping your software security updated and securing a backup for your files. If there is any unknown or suspicious links that appear in your browser, it’s best just to not click them. Likewise, opening emails from unknown people is greatly discouraged, as well as following links that seem out of character for your contacts to send.
Identity thieves will always be there waiting for an opportunity to attack. Keep an eye on anything they could use to make their fraudulent schemes happen. The best identity theft protection is proactive and helps prevent theft before it occurs. Only through diligence can we begin to counter these criminals.
My name is Jennifer Price and I started StopIdentityFraud.org because internet privacy & security are issues that are extremely important to me. As a private network security consultant, too often do I see the damage that can be caused by identity theft & fraud. It’s my goal to help educate people about id theft and how to better protect themselves against it. Feel free to get in touch with me here or on any of my social media profiles.