Businesses and technology are growing hand-in-hand. Faceless transactions, cloud storage, online authentication and paperless dealings have threatened business identity. Identity theft can cause serious financial and legal problems for the victim, and can take a long time and significant effort to resolve. To mitigate these threats, businesses can implement risk management strategies, such as developing contingency plans, investing in cybersecurity measures, diversifying their operations, and establishing strong relationships with suppliers and customers.
Did you know? New reports have stated that the share of suspected fraudulent digital transaction attempts from India increased 28.32% over the 12 months ending March 2021.
What is Identity Theft?
Identity theft can cause serious financial and legal problems for the victim, and can take a long time and significant effort to resolve. Some common examples of identity include:
- Permanent Account Number (PAN)
- Aadhaar number
- License Number
- Registration Number
- Membership Number
- Security Passwords
- Bank details
These carry specific details of the entity and its records. It leads to actions on the part of the entity that the entity never approved of, which may cause damages to its goodwill. Hence, it becomes of utmost importance that businesses are aware of such identity threats and take preventive steps to avoid any loss and corrective steps to report frauds.
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Different Types of Identity Threats
Criminal threats can take many forms, such as physical violence, theft, fraud, cyber attacks, and terrorism. They can pose a significant risk to individuals, businesses, and communities, and can result in physical harm, financial loss, and damage to reputation. Identity threats can be caused in multiple ways, as explained below:
Fraudsters send emails that look exactly similar to the original emails received from the company. Such emails include links to websites or contents that, if clicked, can steal users' data and send it to some remote computer. Further, this data is used to do fraudulent activities.
Data breaches can pose a significant threat to organizations and individuals, as they can result in the theft or misuse of personal information and other sensitive data. When a data breach occurs, data of masses can be released, posing a threat to many users' identities. Data breaches can occur through various means, such as hacking, malware attacks, phishing scams, and insider threats. They can have serious consequences for organizations, including financial losses, damage to reputation, and legal liabilities.
Through skimming, data stored in credit cards and debit cards are stolen at the POS or point of sales security. The swipe machines are replaced by another machine reading device that can read and record data on magnetic strips. Such data, along with PINs, is used to make unauthorised transactions.
This act occurs when any file or code, typically delivered over a network, infects, explores, steals or conducts virtually any behaviour an attacker wants. Through malware installation in the target system, criminals have real-time access to data stored in that system.
Fraudsters can make random calls impersonating banks, financial institutions, insurance companies, tax authorities, etc., claiming sensitive information from the user. Some calls to action offered may cause theft of passwords, pin codes, or OTPs received on the cell.
Dumpster diving is a way for attackers to obtain information that they use to establish trust. The main objective of a dumpster diving attack is to advantage information approximately to an employer.
Public WiFi networks can be unencrypted, which may lead to device data leakage. Cybercriminals can create fake WiFi hotspots that, when connected, can leak sensitive device data of the user along with data used over WiFi. It is advised to use VPNs while connecting to any public WiFi network.
Tax ID or PAN is quoted on the tax returns. Criminals use this information to file fake returns and demand huge refunds.
Thieves tend to copy any entity's logo and invoice formats and issue invoices to customers in the name of the company claiming payments against the same. These invoices do not associate with any particular transaction the entity has approved.
The company's data is used to register a company's trademark in its name and then claim ransom from the company to free this stolen trademark.
Fake websites have often created a replica of the original company website. Products and services are offered through these websites through payments, and in the end, customers appear to lose their money for fake product delivery and service promises.
Fake social media accounts:
Social media accounts are the most approachable marketing medium for businesses today. Fraudsters misuse this fact to drive viewers to such fake accounts.
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Signs of Identity Theft
Identity theft has become one of the fastest-growing crimes and affects millions of Americans every year. Protection of personal information to avoid becoming another victim of identity theft requires education and awareness. Possible identity theft fraud threat emerging has to be given due attention without delay are:
- Your bank statement shows transactions that you haven't carried out.
- You are being billed for services you haven't availed, or you aren't receiving bills for services you are availing.
- You notice discrepancies in your mail account.
- You have been rejected for credit and loans despite having a good credit record.
- You receive customer complaints about services you haven't offered or claims you haven't made.
- You receive calls demanding personal information.
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Prevention Of Identity Theft
With increased crime comes increased responsibility for data protection. If taken care of, a few points can help you greatly protect your data.
- Enable alerts for banking and insurance transactions to stay notified of each activity in your account.
- Always keep unique and difficult passwords that are hard to guess. Use a combination of alphabets, numerals and special characters to create unique passwords. Make a habit of changing them once in a while.
- Enable two-factor authentication for most accounts so that hackers cannot do away with a single set of information and your account stays protected.
- Shred documents before disposing of them. Documents often contain confidential information. Shredding helps destroy such information or leave it unuseful.
- Carry only important and required identity cards with you in your wallet. Keep the rest safe at home.
- Avoid answering calls from unknown sources. Do not provide personal information on calls.
- Avoid sharing personal data on social media posts. A lot of information can be gathered by scrolling through social media accounts which can prove fatal.
- Do not click on links provided in messages or emails that may redirect you to unauthorized sources.
- Use a secured network to access the internet. For public networks, ensure you have a VPN before you connect to public networks.
- Ensure your device contains antivirus detectors and that you scan your device regularly.
What Happens When Data Gets Stolen?
Whenever you notice any suspicious activities relating to your accounts and personal information, immediately contact the nearest police station and inform the agency about the fraud. Knowing what happens to the information after identity theft is also essential.
The thieves use your identity to do activities pretending to be you.
Use credit and debit card details to steal your money and do transactions on your behalf.
Sell Personal Data:
Personal data accessed by hackers is sold on the dark web for monetary returns.
Reporting Identity Theft frauds
The compromise of data is not at all acceptable by laws. In India, strict actions in the form of penalties and imprisonment are prescribed in the Indian Penal Code under various provisions depending on the severity of the act.
For example, if the fraud is about unauthorized cash withdrawal through an ATM, you should report it to the respective bank and the police immediately. Every police station has a fraud department specially dedicated to such complaints. Also, you can opt for legal remedies only if a complaint has been registered.
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What Is The Need Of Protection Against Identifying Theft?
Even with the utmost security, data breaches are possible. The data of millions of users is at stake. Not only do fraudsters steal financial data, but they also intend to misuse medical data to avail of insurance benefits. It may take a huge toll on your future income and cost you trust issues with data protection. Hence, prevention can help avoid or minimize identity theft threats, securing your sensitive data from being misused in your name.
Identity theft occurs when someone uses the personal information or financial details without permission. They can steal the name and address, credit card or bank account details or medical insurance account number. It is important to keep your financial records, social security and medicare cards, and any other documents that have personal information in a safe place.
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