Business Daily.
A+ R A-

Scary Ways Hackers Can Steal Your Identity

Identity theft goes way beyond someone stealing your credit card. Cybercriminals keep coming up with new ways to hurt us.

Using stolen credentials to open an account in your name to take over your entire identity, hackers use social engineering tactics to fool their victims.

If you think it cannot happen to you, think again. No one is immune to succumbing to identity theft. It may have already happened to you.

Below are some identity theft schemes you might not be aware of and steps you can take to prevent them.

The Selfie

Taking selfies is something people of all ages do. And then they post the pictures on social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

For those looking for love on dating sites, their uploaded personal photos are at risk from hackers stealing their pictures.

Technology is always vulnerable to those capable and smart enough to exploit it. Did you know that Clearwater’s business model is to scrape people’s images wherever they can find them on the Internet?

It looks for pictures of faces as well as any personal information that accompanies them. The scraped information is then put into their facial recognition database.

It is not clear whether what Clearwater does is legal or illegal. Major brands such as Twitter and Google have already sent a cease-and desist-letter, even though it will probably require a court to enforce it.

It is highly likely that your photos are being stored in some database somewhere. The only way to be sure your information is not floating around the web is to not be anywhere on it.

Hackers do not even need to have advanced technical skills to crack your passwords. All they need is the information found on your Facebook page to steal your identity.

Malicious actors also use your online dating personal selfies and set up fake profiles to lure unsuspecting actors into fraudulent schemes.

Even scarier is the trending backward peace sign selfie-pose. Ondrei Krehel, a digital forensics expert, claims that your digit display can be edited, cropped, printed, and lifted into a replica of your fingerprint.

The simple fact that it is not that difficult to steal your fingerprint makes it even more frightening. Armed with this knowledge, refrain from displaying your digits on social media.

How Can You Protect Your Photos from Hackers?

Unfortunately, there is no failsafe solution to prevent hackers from stealing your photos. However, there are a few things you can do to minimize risks, such as:

  • Keeping your apps and OS system updated to the latest versions
  • Locking your smartphone
  • Using two-factor authentication
  • Avoiding public Wi-Fi
  • Sharing sparingly on social media
  • Knowing where your apps come from and avoiding 3rd party apps
  • Creating unique email accounts especially for dating sites

If you suspect that your smartphone has been hacked, either get it checked out by a professional or look out for:

  • Excessively high data usage
  • Strange activity on any account connected to your phone
  • Slower performance than usual
  • Outbound texts, calls, or emails you did not make

Two-Factor Authentication, Discounts, and Problems with Your Account

Most of us have experienced receiving an email or text message from our bank or other accounts, asking us to confirm our identity.

This type of fraud is too often successful because the email and the site you see if you click on a link looks shockingly real.

Although you might be tempted to click on a link in an email, resist the temptation. These scammers have worked hard to make their emails, texts, and landing pages look like an almost identical replica of the official site.

Particularly around the holidays, hackers will disguise themselves as retail outlets offering you discount coupons or special deals.

All they ask is for you to click on their link to verify your information. The dead giveaway should be when they ask for verification of bank or credit card information. Being aware of this type of scam will help you to not fall for it.

If you want to know if the offer is valid or not, go directly to the store or bank website from a browser or call the institution.

Scammers are notorious for sending out phishing emails pretending to be PayPal letting you know that your account has been limited. When in doubt, do not click.

Instead, log into your PayPal account from a browser window. If there is an issue with your account, you will see a notification once you log in.

Do not become a victim. Protect yourself by not opening PDFs or other attachments from unsolicited emails and not clicking on any web links.

Resist the Urge

Although many of our mobile devices are attached to our hip, try to resist the urge to use the Internet from an unsecured Wi-Fi network when you are not at home.

Hackers troll public networks lying in wait for new victims to rip off. If you have no other choice because you are dealing with an urgent matter or are required by your job to work on tasks or projects, there is a way to stay off unsecured Wi-Fi networks when in a public place.

If you must connect to the Internet, protect yourself and your data by using a Virtual Private Network (VPN). A VPN is an encrypted connection that extends a private network across a public network.

It works by routing your online activity data through a server with a different IP address. Therefore, your actual location is hidden, and your data is encrypted from crooks lying in wait to steal from you.

Using a VPN enables you to access the Internet while protecting your online activity and keeping your information secure from hackers.

Pretending to be Someone Else

It is alarming and disruptive when someone steals your identity to gain access to your credit cards and bank accounts. Any identity theft can have a tremendous negative impact on your life.

Even worse, consider the effect on your life if someone you trust is not actually who they purport to be.

There is nothing scarier than putting your faith in a doctor and finding out that he is not a professionally trained, experienced professional.

You might think this is an uncommon occurrence when in actuality it is not. For example, a man named Sarang Chitale worked as a junior doctor in the state’s public health service from 2003 until 2014.

As it turned out, he had no medical qualifications, had stolen the identity of the real Doctor Chitale, became an Australian citizen, and earned a six-figure salary until he was caught in 2016.

Identity theft in the medical field is especially egregious because of the trust we have in those looking after our most prized possession, our health.

Think about the professionals in other disciplines you trust, such as the clergy, pilots, and veterinarians.

It makes one shudder to think about possible imposters we could be dealing with in life without knowing it.

What Can You Do?

Although it is unfortunate, it is also a reality that most of our information is already on the dark web. If nothing has happened to you yet, hopefully, it never will.

The only thing you can do is stay apprised of new ways hackers are attempting to steal and be cautious by:

  • Monitoring all your financial transactions and your credit
  • Changing your passwords frequently
  • Using two factor-authentication
  • Avoiding public unsecured Wi-Fi
  • Using a VPN when you must use the web in a public place

Yes, it is scary to think that someone can steal your identity. If your credit card is stolen, you can file a report and get a new one.

As far as more life-altering identity theft, take preventative measures where you can and monitor your information often.

Business Daily Media