Identity theft has been increasing over the years, and chances are you or someone in your network has been a victim. In fact, some report findings reveal that in the US alone, there were over 9,600 data breaches between 2008 and 2019; thieves stole more than 10 billion records during that period. In this article, we will explore five ways identity thieves can obtain your personal information.
Let’s dive in:
Phishing is one of the most common ways that identity thieves can get your information. A 2019 report by Verizon indicates that nearly a third of data breaches in 2018 involved phishing.
With phishing, what identity thieves do is send you an email that seems to be from a trusted source, but with malicious links and attachments that are meant to steal your information. The moment you click on the links or attachments, your goose is cooked.
There are generally three different types of phishing attacks. There is the “spray and pray” type of phishing that has no specific target, the spear-phishing attack, which is more targeted, and whaling, which targets high-value corporate targets.
Pharming is another common way that identity thieves can get your information. In this case, the thieves target website servers or domain name systems instead of you directly. Of course, you have a role to play, but unlike phishing, it is very small.
With pharming, hackers exploit a vulnerability to hijack a website’s DNS. The attack corrupts a server, and all your internet traffic is redirected to fraudulent sites. Without knowing, you end up sharing your information on bogus sites that look legitimate.
Tech-savvy identity thieves can easily use malicious software, like Spyware and Keyloggers, to steal your personal information.
The thieves can use keyloggers, which are software programs designed to secretly monitor and log keystrokes, to determine your password, PIN, or other sensitive information. They can use spyware to monitor all your internet activities covertly, gathering all your personal data without even knowing.
The malicious software can find its way on your computer or phone when you simply click on those suspicious links and attachments you are not supposed to.
Skimming involves the use of a device called a skimmer to steal your credit card or bank details. The device is small enough to fit in a pocket and fast enough to copy your information in seconds.
Some skimmers allow the thieves to swipe a card and obtain information from its magnetic strip, while others include a touchpad that allows them to enter a security code.
Skimming devices are all over. Some are used at ATMs and gas stations, while others are used in restaurants or retail stores. By handing over your credit card to a waiter, you may just be handing over your personal information to a thief.
Social media imposters
It is no secret that identity thieves are using social media platforms to steal people’s identities. Many masquerade as legitimate businesses and send links to unsuspecting victims, who end up losing more than just their personal information.
Other ways identity thieves can steal your information include dumpster diving, mail theft, shoulder surfing, pretext calling, and stealing your wallet or purse.
There are many ways you can protect yourself from identity theft. One includes never opening suspicious emails. Two, never click on links and attachments that look suspicious or are from suspicious sources. Learning to stay safe on the web can save you a lot of trouble.