What are the Most Common Identity Theft Scams?
Identity theft is one of the most common types of crime in the United States. And it's not just about credit card fraud; identity thieves can use your personal information to open new lines of credit, file for tax refunds, and even take out loans. According to reports from around the country, there are several main ways that criminals get their hands on your personally identifiable information. Here are a few of the most common ways:
1. Phishing Scams
Phishing is a scam that uses fake emails to get you to share your personal information. It often involves pretending to be from a legitimate business, like Amazon or Facebook, and then asking you for things like passwords or credit card numbers.
These emails are often disguised as real emails from a legitimate business—but they're not!
Phishing emails often contain links that lead to fake websites designed to steal your identity. These sites will look just like the real thing, so it's easy for people who don't know better (like little kids) to be tricked into thinking they're on the right website when they're really giving their information away.
2. Vishing Scams
Vishing, or voice phishing, is when you receive a phone call from someone pretending to be from a company and they try to get your personal information. The person might tell you that there has been some sort of problem with your account and then ask for your name and account number. They might also say that you have won something but will need to give them some information before they can send it over.
Vishing scams can be harder to spot because the scammer is on the other end of the line—rather than sending an email or text message. But if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is! If a company calls asking for sensitive information like this, hang up or ask them to put their request in writing so that you can verify their identity first (but never share any sensitive info).
3. A Data Breach
A data breach is when a company’s computer system is hacked. Hackers steal data and sell it to scammers, who then use the information to commit identity theft. Data breaches can include credit card information, social security numbers, and other personal information.
The best way to prevent a data breach is by using strong passwords that are unique for every online account you have and changing them regularly (at least once per month). We also highly recommend using a password manager to create and keep unique passwords for each of your accounts.
4. Online Shopping Scams
Online shopping scams are a dime a dozen, and they can be incredibly easy to fall victim to. A common scam involves fake websites that ask you to enter your credit card information or social security number. They may use fake emails, text messages, phone calls, or ads on social media to get you to do so.
Another common online shopping scam is when you download an app or game that looks legitimate but actually has malicious software inside of it called malware. This allows the scammers access to your device and data stored there such as financial information, passwords and more! The best way to avoid these online shopping scams to only open, download, and visit apps and websites that you are sure are legitimate and secure.
5. Social Media Scams
You may have seen posts on social media — especially Facebook — warning about scams like this one: Someone writes about being stranded in another state or country, needing money for cab fare back home immediately after an unexpected trip away from home at short notice (perhaps due to a family emergency).
The goal is for victims of the scammer's ploy — who've read these posts — to feel compelled enough by sympathy alone that they'd want to get involved by sending funds so this “person” can get home safely without further delay. You should never send any stranger money or fall victim to these sympathetic social media posts as they are yet another way to scam innocent people.
The Best Way to Beat Scammers
The best way to fight scammers is to be informed about their methods. The more you know, the better equipped you are to protect yourself and loved ones from identity theft.
Know that scammers pretend to be your bank or a government agency like the IRS in order to get personal information from you. They might even make threats or use scare tactics so that you'll give up your information without thinking twice about it.
The two best ways to overcome online identity theft and scams is to use your common sense and invest in identity protection such as MIProtect from MIProTechs. MIProtect will help to keep an eye on your online activity such as your digital footprint, financial and credit monitoring, social media and dark web monitoring, and more so you and your family can feel safe from all of these scams while using the internet.
As you can see, identity theft is a serious issue. While there are ways to protect yourself and your loved ones, it’s important to remember that the most effective tool is still common sense. Don’t give out any personal information over the phone or email unless you can confirm who they are and why they need it—and if you do have suspicions about something going on with your credit or bank accounts, don’t wait until it gets worse before reporting it!
If you have any questions or are ready to take the next step on your online identity protection give us a call, our team of experts would be happy to go over everything and get you set up!