Security software manufacturer ESET gives tips on how to secure your digital identity online. The reason: personal information such as addresses or social security numbers can be at least as valuable to cybercriminals as credit card information, as it allows them to use the victim’s identity for their own purposes. By following the tips below, the risk of digital identity loss can be minimized.
1. Identity theft: watch out for warning signs
Identity thieves regularly change private addresses
Photo: Shutterstock.com / Photosani
Identity thieves regularly change private addresses so that letters no longer reach the recipient. For example, if you no longer receive letters from your bank, this could be the first sign of identity theft. To avoid such misuse, everyone is advised to contact their own bank if expected mail does not arrive at the usual time. It also helps to at least skim unexpected mail from unfamiliar financial institutions, rather than dismissing it outright as unsolicited advertising. If there’s an envelope in the mail from a lender or credit card company, be sure to read through it to make sure no stranger has taken out a loan in someone else’s name.
2. Check creditworthiness regularly
At credit bureaus like Schufa in Germany or KSV1870 in Austria, everyone can find out about their own creditworthiness and find out if credit cards or loans under their own name are completely unknown. Such a credit report is free of charge once a year and should be an absolute must for everyone.
3. Always send important letters personally
Credit card applications or tax returns contain valuable information that a cybercriminal also values. Because this data is enough for him to copy the victim’s identity and abuse it for his own purposes. Letters containing such sensitive information must therefore never be passed on carelessly to others.
4. Online banking: change your password regularly
The password to the online banking account is one of the most important securities that every bank customer has. Many users are probably aware of this, and yet there are certainly some who use the same password as they did a few years ago. For all those to whom this applies: change password immediately. Some sites regularly ask you to change your password. Users often respond by simply appending a special character or digit to the existing password. However, this is not a recommended approach. Because if a password is compromised at some point, that’s the first thing a password cracker is going to try.
5. There is no obligation to provide information when calling
Identity fraudsters often rely on people revealing information on their own initiative – for example, during phone calls or by responding to fake emails from their bank or another institution. But that’s not how banks work. If a phone call seems strange, it’s everyone’s right to just hang up.
6. Protecting personal information at home too
If you let strangers like salesmen or cleaners into your home, you should always make sure that documents like tax returns, credit card information and IDs are not lying around in plain sight. In the event of a break-in, it is of utmost importance to check whether someone has seized the identity.
7. Beware of Facebook tests
Links in social networks are generally to be taken with caution. Especially the popular Facebook tests should never be clicked unthinkingly. Because some of these tests are not only boring, but also dangerous.
David Harley, Senior Research Fellow at ESET: "Some quiz sites are trying to grab information that could also be of interest to criminals."
"Some quiz sites try to grab information that could also be of interest to criminals", explains David Harley, Senior Research Fellow at ESET. Even before that, quiz companies were caught selling health-related quiz data to pharmaceutical companies. The same applies even more to links that lead to raffles, offers or giveaways. If you are asked to enter the same data here as for a credit card application, you should leave the page immediately and close the browser.