Tag: identity theft

How to Reclaim Your Identity

There are criminals intent on stealing your identity so they can take-over your accounts, open new accounts in your name, take out loans etc. and everything in your name which means you can be prosecuted by any retailers or other organisations if you don’t pay the bills.

If you find your bank account has been emptied or you are locked out of your accounts or strange charges appear on your mobile phone or calls you get from debt collectors about loans you haven’t taken out,  then you may have had your identity stolen.

Recovering your identity after it’s been stolen can be difficult and stressful.  It is important that you take action immediately as that gives the best chance of stopping the criminal and recovering any money stolen.

  1. Contact the police to report the fraud and get a crime number which is needed for any insurance claims.

You can call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or make a report on their web site at actionfraud.police.uk. which also offers advice for victims of identity theft.

  1. If you have reason to think that criminals have accessed your credit card account or bank account then contact your supplier immediate.
  2. If you receive a letter from a debt collector or bailiff, this could mean someone has already been borrowing money in your name. You should contact them to explain the situation and not simply ignore the letters or calls.
  3. If you receive a court summons for non-payment of a bill, then contact the company or court straight away to explain what you think has happened. If you don’t take action right away, it could become very difficult to resolve the issue.
  4. Check your credit report. If you have reason to think that criminals have stolen your personal information, you should check your credit report for signs of unusual activity. This will show if criminals have tried to apply for credit in your name. You can get your credit report from one of the ratings agencies e.g. Experian or Equifax for a couple of pounds.
  5. Consider registering on the Cifas Protective Register. This register tells finance providers to be very careful over any changes to your accounts. They will insist on extra security checks to protect you. This can be beneficial for peace of mind but also makes it difficult for you to make any changes.

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Big Increases in Identity Fraud

Identity theft is when someone collects enough information about you to pretend to be you in order to access your bank account, use your credit card details, open accounts in your name, take out loans in your name, block your access to your own accounts etc.

This is a very destructive form of fraud as it can be very difficult for the victim to prove it wasn’t them taking out the money and to get their identity back, including access to the various accounts.

UK Government statistics show almost 190,000 cases of identity fraud in a 12 month period with CIFAS (the fraud prevention service) recording increases of 8% per year.

The figures also show that levels for older people are rising faster, suggesting they are being targeted for this type of fraud.

Most people do not realise they have been a victim of identity fraud until bills start arriving and demands for repayment for loans they didn’t request.

To avoid becoming such a victim, you need to make sure you keep personal information to yourself – starting with setting social media network privacy levels to high, use strong passwords and never reveal passwords to anyone in emails or by phone.

Always be cautious of emails or websites or text messages offering anything too good to be true.

Stay safe.

If you have any experiences with identity theft, do let me know, by email.

Facebook Logins for Sale

Hackers are selling Facebook logins for as little as £2 on the Dark Web according to recent investigation.

The “Dark Web” is that part of the internet that isn’t visible to search engines and requires the use of an anonymous browser called “Tor” to be accessed.

Research on multiple dark web marketplaces shows that criminals can buy such details easily from numerous suppliers on the dark web.  It appears that Facebook logins can be bought from £2.30 and email logins for as little as £2.10, while credit cards details can be bought from £10.40 and debit card details from £14.90.

Logins for AirBnb cost from £7.70 and eBay logins are being sold from £4.40.

The investigation conducted by the price compare site found that you could purchase the majority of someone’s online life details for £744.30.

This includes usernames, passwords, email addresses and any personal details associated with your account, such as name, address and phone numbers.

Social media accounts are often stolen to sell to companies with no respect for privacy when it comes to targeted advertising.

Approximate Costs on the Dark Web:-

  • Finance (credit cards, debit cards, online marketing, PayPal) = £619.40
  • Online shopping (Amazon prime, Groupon, eBay, Tesco) = £30.30
  • Travel (Airbnb, British Airways, Uber, Expedia) = £26.40
  • Entertainment (Apple ID, Netflix, Spotify, Tidal, Steam) = £27.90
  • Social media (Facebook, Reddit, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter) = £18.40
  • Email and Communication (AOL, Gmail, Hotmail, T-Mobile) = £21.90

It really is important to protect your data where possible to avoid facing costly consequences.

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Rise in Identity Theft in Over-60s

Identity theft is where a criminal gets personal information on someone and pretends to be that person so they can take out credit cards, bank accounts, loan agreements etc. in that person’s name.

Identity thieves generally don’t care about the age of their targets as long as they are over 18 (so they buy alcohol etc. with the fake identity) but increasingly the over-60s age group are being targeted.

In the first half of 2018, there were more than 14 thousand reports of identity theft in those aged 60 and above. The total number of identity theft cases in that time was over 80 thousand.

There are more and more people over 60 accessing the Internet so this makes it easier for criminals to find such targets.

And it may be that over-60s are more trusting and less familiar with the dangers of the Internet so don’t take the necessary steps to protect themselves as they should.

Be careful about giving away your private information e.g. name, address, email address, date of birth, bank details etc.

Be equally careful about callers claiming to be from an organisation you deal with e.g. water company, Internet provider, local government, local bank etc.

If in doubt, check the genuine phone number and call them to verify the situation.

Got to https://fightback.ninja/test/one-third-of-people-fail-on-basic-security-do-you/ for more advice on personal security.

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The Danger of Online Wish Lists

Christmas is a time when some people make wish lists online and these can be fun but they can inadvertently give away a lot of information to scammers.

Amazon maintains wish lists so in theory other people can buy gifts for you that you do want rather than having to figure out what you might want. Amazon has three levels of privacy – Public, Shared or Private.  Choosing Public lets anyone see the list, Private means just you and shared is where you can choose who gets to see the list.

Allowing this information to be public should be harmless, but people who are trying to steal your identity can use this information to get critical details about you.

Michelle Black works with Hope 4 USA in Ft. Mill. She spends several hours a day helping people recover from ID theft, which is one of the fastest growing crimes.

Black says “A scammer can log into these public websites, public wish lists. From there they might have such information as your city and state, your date of birth, your children’s names and perhaps their dates of birth and they can use that to start putting together the pieces of the puzzle they need to fully steal your identity.”

The thieves then create a fake website by making it look like Amazon or the online wish list company.

They  tell you someone has purchased an item on your list and all you have to do is login to confirm the mailing address.

And if you click on that link and login, the scammer has the information needed to access your account and maybe even for identity theft.

Make sure any online wish list or gift registry is set to Private.

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Social Networking and Identity Theft

Billions of people use social media networks – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat and more.

Many people share lots of information about themselves and sometimes that can give fraudsters what they need to scam you, specifically to steal your identity.

Identity theft is where a fraudster acquires confidential information about you – sufficient that she can access your online accounts, take out credit cards or loans in your name, commit crimes and use your name etc.

This can be a devastating experience for some and once your identity has been stolen it’s very difficult to reclaim it without a lot of help.

How Identity Theft Can Happen Through Social Networking

To make full use of social media you need to divulge information about yourself but you should be aware of the following risky activities:-

  • In Settings – choosing privacy to be “low”
  • Accepting invitations to connect from unknown people
  • Downloading free APPS – games etc.
  • Sharing your password
  • Clicking on links that lead you to other websites, even if the link was sent to you by a friend or posted on your friend’s profile
  • Clicking on links in phishing messages or replying to them

E.g. A woman receives a message from one of her friends on social media recommending a cat video for which there is a link. She trusts her friend so clicks on the link, but it doesn’t bring up a video. She didn’t know that her friends profile had been hacked and taken over and the link was to a malicious website. A computer virus has  now downloaded to her computer from that website.

She later finds that emails have gone out in her name to all of her contacts asking them to click on the malicious link.

Be aware and stay safe.

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