Identity theft is looked upon as one of the frequent cybercrimes throughout the world and leaves you dealing with long-lasting and serious repercussions. In the case of uninitiated fraud or identity theft, there’s the involvement of unauthorized acquisition of personal details for establishing false identities for any financial gain. Identity theft victims may suffer for months or even many years before all their finances and details are brought into order.
The less obvious impact of such faceless crime is the disruption of your mental health, which may be seen in the form of anger, frustration, and anxiety. In the case of extreme cases, identity theft victims develop paranoia. Thus, it is always recommended to review your credit report periodically, not just for credit score check online but also to know all the details are right with the correct transactions mentioned. Periodical checking of your credit report can allow you to understand if there’s any identity theft or fraud from before and encourage you to instantly report to the concerned authorities.
One of the most necessary things that must be done post-identity theft is freezing your credit report. A credit freeze can prevent credit bureaus from further sharing your report with any anonymous bodies like lenders, even without your permission. A credit freeze is a prudent way to reduce the risk of damages to your identity and finances. In the case that the perpetrator tries to place an application for a credit card or loan in your name, he/she will not be able to get ahold of your credit report, which may result in the rejection of any credit application that he/she applied for. Before learning more about how you can freeze your credit report, understand the different identity theft aspects.
What’s identity theft?
Identity theft is the use of personal info or identity to commit crimes, often financial fraud. It can mean the usage of info from your PAN, driver’s license, mobile number, address, etc., for any wrongful benefit. Note that your personal details and name can be used without your permission; it may take a while for you to realize that you are the victim. In most of the scenarios, identity theft happens to post the demise of the individual as well.
Generally, you may not be able to find out about identity theft until you get a credit card statement, purchase SMS that you did not conduct or notices in your mail regarding your new accounts that you did not open. Being a victim of such identity theft is traumatic and can damage your financial record and credit history massively while putting your personal details at high risk. Unquestionably, facing an identity theft can mentally break you down too.
Few of the common ways for your identity to get stolen –
Nowadays, hackers or identity thieves are looking for new ways to steal your consumer details, which has given rise to different methods of conducting identity theft. Common forms include –
∙ Mail theft
∙ WIFI hacking
∙ Mobile phone theft
∙ Spam or malware attacks
∙ Credit card theft
∙ Data breaches
∙ Internet hacking
How do identity thieves make use of your private information?
After getting the needed details via phone and email, cybercriminals conduct a range of different crimes under an assumed identity. Here are a few of the common ways in which stolen private info can be used –
∙ For opening a fraudulent bank account in your name
∙ Using the credit card info and account number details to make purchases
∙ Selling your personal info on the dark web for facilitating medical fraud or credit fraud with the compromised details
∙ Filling fraudulent taxes or even stealing the tax refund amounts
∙ Stealing your account details, passwords, and account PINs to access your bank information and financial record for committing financial fraud.
What are the precautionary measures you must take to prevent identity theft?
You can lower the chances of identity theft by being more aware and by following the listed practices –
∙ Do not give your personal details
Many times, an identity thief can pretend to be your debt collector or bank official and convince you to provide your bank details and passwords over the call or by visiting your home. It is important to stay vigilant while you interact with any anonymous individual.
You must strictly refrain from endowing your personal details to anyone and ensure to check up with the authorized bank reps before doing this. Note that the bank never asks you to provide your PIN or password or any crucial details that you must only know.
∙ Never click on any unauthenticated email links
You must look at the fraudulent links and emails, which appear as if they are from any individual or business you may know. It is very important not to select and visit the link in your email. However, you must ensure to roll over the link and view the destination URL to remain safe while browsing through the internet. Doing so would allow you to avoid any malware, viruses, or phishing scams that may try to accumulate your details.
Can freezing your credit report allow you to prevent identity theft?
Freezing your credit report is looked upon as one of the effective ways of preventing yourself from identity theft, particularly if you are also a prey of it without realizing it. Credit freeze disallows access to your profile and credit report to the existing lenders or any individual without your permission. Doing so makes obtaining credit cards and loans or making big-ticket purchases in your name difficult, even if cyber criminals hold your personal details. Now, you can freeze your credit report without any charges.
Way to freeze credit report
To freeze your credit reports, you must contact each of the 4 consumer credit bureaus, namely CIBIL, Equifax, Experian and CRIF High Mark and submit a request to them to freeze your credit report. Upon receiving your request, they may either directly freeze your credit report or may ask for your date of birth, PAN number and Aadhaar card details before doing so.