Almost one out of four have already become a victim of identity fraud of theft. But, there’s still an attitude that somehow it won’t happen to me. But, what if you are the victim? All across India, the fastest-growing white-collar crime has been rising year on year and its after-effects can be devastating.
What is identity fraud and identity theft?
Identity fraud is the use of another person’s personal information by the fraudster, without authorisation, to commit a criminal offence or to deceive or defraud person or a 3rd person. Most identity frauds are committed within the context of economic advantages, like accessing a victim’s card, bank or loan accounts. Bogus documents are used in criminal activity.
Identity theft is the deliberate use of someone else’s identity, usually as a technique to realise a financial advantage or obtain credit and other benefits within the other person’s name. The definition of fraud has been statutorily defined as the theft of personally identifiable information, generally including a human name, date of birth, social insurance number, passport, license number, checking account or card numbers, pin’s, electronic signatures, fingerprints, passwords, or the other information that may be accustomed access financial resources.
Most common identity thefts and frauds
a) Criminal fraud: An individual illegally impersonates himself as police, this amounts to what’s called as criminal identity fraud
b) Identity cloning fraud: When an individual impersonates himself as another individual so as to hide in order to conceal his identity from others is called cloning fraud
c) Financial fraud: Most common identity fraud in India that occurs where an individual tries to gain economic gain in others name
d) Synthetic fraud: Most common identity theft in India especially in the case of foreign nationals, their identities are completely or partially fabricated to create a completely new identity
e) Tax frauds: When someone gains another person’s information and uses that to receive a tax refund, this amounts to Tax identity fraud and this happens mostly in the western countries
f) Phone or utility fraud: Using another person’s personal information to open a cell phone or utility account
g) Government benefits fraud: Using someone else’s personal information to obtain government benefits like pension, farmer or widow benefits
h) Fake furveys/ lottery: Scammers offer prizes or rewards such as gift cards to well-known establishments in return for completing an online survey. The survey requires you to answer a range of questions including disclosure of important identification and banking details
Most common warning signs of identity thefts and fraud
Few possible signs that can alert you from falling prey to the identity thieves
• Verification calls from a bank
• A warning or a notice from a bank
• Credit report showing unused transactions
• Very small amounts being debited from your bank accounts in regular intervals
• Purchases in your card statement that you have not authorised or purchased
• Receiving a statement or bill, that you simply haven’t purchased/used
What you should do
• Contact banker, credit card, or the respective organisation and explain what happened
• Freeze all your credit cards and bank accounts with immediate effect for some time
• Update all passwords for your email accounts, social media accounts that were affected
• Finally complain to the national Cybercrime reporting portal at www.cybercrime.gov.in
Staying digitally secure
• Don’t communicate to, or accept friend requests from, strangers on social media platforms and messaging platforms
• Limit the posting of private information on social media and on blogging sites
• Understand how privacy settings work on social media platforms and only let your friends and family have access to your profiles, posts, photos and videos
• Make sure you have a strong password (not your surnames, mother’s maiden name, pet’s name, birthday or address) for e-mail, social networking and gaming accounts
• Enable Two Factor Authentication (2FA) for all social media and email logins that you use
• Keep a separate e-mail id for bank and credit card purposes
• Periodically check bank, credit card, and CIBIL Statements
Stay Tuned to Cyber Talk Column on 18th August 2020 more about “ Internet Ethics and Digital Wellness ” brought to you by Anil Rachamalla, End Now Foundation, www.endnowfoundation.org
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