Beware! Identity theft and ruining a reputation online can hit you hard

One out of every five people worldwide is on a social networking website and your identity and reputation are at RISK without you knowing it!

Technology makes our lives more convenient! But with increasing convenience and information flow, it also makes us vulnerable. Growing urban population and ever evolving technology poses a challenge and makes fighting cyber crimes and imperative.

Our personal information e.g. name, date of birth, addresses, phone numbers, email IDs etc as well as sensitive financial information is pervasive and can be easily accessible online and offline.

And it is not difficult to foresee how such easily available information, can be used to commit the simplest form of identity theft and fraud, such as pretending to be someone else and taking a mobile phone connection, or opening a social network profile or even re-directing someone bank and card statements and bills to another address. And the internet makes access to personal and financial information simpler!

One out of every five people worldwide, are on a social networking website. With internet penetration in India crossing the landmark 100 million mark, Indian netizens are hopping onto them as well with equal gusto. Facebook, Linkedin, Google+, Orkut are pervasive today, especially amongst the young educated population of India. And it is an established trend for people to take risks online.

People often play with their online identities in a manner that they would never dream of, in the real world and this puts them at RISK for identity and online reputation thefts – says Asgar Patel victim of online reputation slander and he added – Beware yourself of too much online exposure.

For those uninitiated on how ID theft can happen, in the online world there are numerous website where your personal information is lying without your knowledge and in less secure environments, for fraudsters to misuse it, to their advantage. From crude methods to well organised scams, identity theft, online reputation slander works in a range of ways.

Taking a case in point, wedding is a big business proposition in India. Burgeoning Matrimonial websites in India have a have great business potential, however, these websites are a goldmine of personal information and most members might find themselves becoming victims of Identity thieves and fraudsters. Matrimonial websites tend to attract young men and women across the country and users create personal profile replete with information based on nationality, age, gender, religion, economic standard, job status, height, family background, and photograph. With this sensitive personal information, fraudsters can cause considerable damage be it to damage someone’s reputation or financially by buying a phone connection or procuring a credit card pretending to be someone else, with the information they have access to.

And the victim would not know about it until it’s too late! As per a news article, an accused terrorist confessed to have obtained SIM cards with forged papers created by gathering information on a matrimonial website. Stealing an identity is, unfortunately, surprisingly easy to do and happens when one least expects it! Protecting oneself is therefore very important.

If someone’s identity is stolen, it can take months or even years to recover from the disorder they leave behind. The number of new cases of identity theft is on the rise. This relatively new trend is the result of internet’s influence, by easing access to sensitive personal information.

>> There are 112 million claimed Internet users in India, source ComScore; Internet in India, 2011

>> Credit and Debit cards can be applied for in the name of another individual

>> Fraudulent bank loans could be taken out in the name of the victim

>> Phone connections can be taken to carry out forgery and other frauds

>> A multiple range of debts can be incurred in victim’s name

>> Email ids and social networks profiles can be created using false information

>> The information can be used in various illegal activities in victim’s name

>> Illegal acts can be performed by applying for new driver’s licenses or passport

CPP offers these warnings to help people stay safe and protect themselves. Most identity theft victims don’t come to know of the fraud until long after the incident. They dismiss possible indicators as mistakes or mix-ups and take no corrective measures like:

Unexpected verification call from a bank or a service provider

>> A warning or notice from a bank or service provider

>> Unexplained entries in your Credit Report

>> Debit of small amounts in bank statements

>> Unfamiliar purchases in your card statement

>> Receiving a statement or bill for a service you don’t have
Act Fast or Get to the Point Of No Return:

>> Do not disclose your personal details beyond what is essential, online or on social networks.

>> Do not respond to suspicious emails asking for your personal details and never disclose your bank, credit/debit card details and PIN numbers to anybody online or offline.

>> There are 112 million claimed Internet users in India

>> Ensure you use adequate updated antivirus software.

>> If you receive a request from a friend or family member stranded while on holiday asking you to transfer money to them, contact them by phone or alternative contact to verify the request is genuine before sending any money or providing personal details.

>> Regularly check your credit card and/or bank statements to ensure that suspicious transactions are detected.

>> Shred all documents containing personal information, such as credit card and bank statements.

>> Lnog directly onto websites you are interested in rather than clicking on links provided
in an email.

>> Read your credit report from time to time to track any suspicious changes.

Identity theft can have grave, sometimes devastating repercussions for its victims, ranging from financial loss, damaged credit ratings to loss of reputation. In a time when more and more information is being shared online, the security of personal information is very important.

Be careful with your personal information, since becoming a victim of identity theft can take months and even years to straighten out!

Credit Sudhaar is India’s first Credit Health management & improvement company whose goal is to help clients to Restore, Enhance and Protect their Credit and make them credit healthy

Courtesy : Market Watch

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