Avoiding Online Scams Identity Theft
Identity theft can happen to absolutely anyone - if any of your personal information is online, you're at risk of having your identity stolen.
In the clip above, YouTuber Emily Hartridge meets somebody who has had her identity stolen a staggering 73 times, and with so many people claiming to be her, she has even begun questioning whether she actually is who she thinks she is... a horror film concept if ever we saw one.
There are, however, ways to avoid ending up in a similar situation, so to minimise the risk of having YOUR online identity stolen, we've gathered some useful tip for you. What's that you say? We're absolute heroes? Oh, you're too kind.
Track your spend
If you have a bank account, keep a close, regular eye on your statements to see where your money has been going. If something unusual pops up, like, for example, a large amount has been mysteriously spent on 300 miniature beaver statues, you should probably contact your bank and report it as soon as possible.
(No offence intended towards people who love miniature statues of beavers)
If someone dodgy gets hold of your passwords, they're probably gonna do a whoooole lot of fraud. It's tempting to save passwords as notes in your phone or in easily-accessible documents on your computer, but do this and you're asking for trouble. A good list of password managers can be found here.
Also, it's important to never email passwords and usernames together, as you never know who can access your email. It's a good idea to send both via separate platforms (e.g. - username via email, password via text).
Destroy your docs
Not to sound like we're being paranoid or anything, but you should definitely SHRED EVERYTHING. All important documents that you no longer need shouldn't simply be thrown away, as fraudsters have been known to rummage through bins to collect personal information. If you don't have a shredder, then rip up your documents and dispose of them in different bins. Not only will this mean your identity is safer, but you'll also feel like a cool spy.
Ignore cold callers
Cold callers will contact anyone they can in an attempt to trap them into handing over personal details. Sometimes, it's not easy to identify a cold caller from a legitimate personal phone call. If you are unaware of who the person is and have had no prior contact with them or the company they claim to be calling from, simply hang up the phone and block the number. You don't need that kind of drama in your life.
Lock yourself in
The less of yourself the outside world has access to, the better, so we recommend that you adjust your social media settings to 'private' wherever possible.
Sure, you may not get to brag about that ridiculous yoga position you managed to snap your limbs into, to as many people as you'd like, but at least you'll get to keep your own identity.
As mentioned above, you should contact your bank straight away if you're concerned that you've been a victim of online fraud, but you can also get in touch with Action Fraud using their online reporting tool or by calling 03001232040.
Don't sit and hope for the best if it looks like you've been dragged into something criminal, as before you know it, you too could end up having 73 other versions of yourself roaming around...
Con, be gone.
If you need further support on how to avoid scams or where to seek help if you've been scammed, follow the link