Data / Identity Theft and Ways to protect

Data & Identity Theft and Ways to protect

Data& Identity Theft and Ways to protect

Cyberspace is the repository of all the information available in this world. It has become a readymade source of knowledge/ information for people more so on account of search engines such as Google, binge safari explorer, etc. which make the information readily available on the internet. This all-pervasiveness of the internet in the life of a man/woman/person(s) has increased manifold on account of the prevailing pandemic of covid -19 which has made people more dependent on the net for their requirements such as grocery, food, travel ticket booking, Hotel booking/ restaurant charges, entertainment, other payments, social connectivity, etc.

This dependence on the internet is increasing day by day. Internet use is exploding in India with the increase in mobile handsets which presently are 600mn and is expected to reach 900 mn users by 2025. ( Source- Internet and Mobile Association of India -IAMI). As the saying goes every coin has its flip side. The internet which brings so much positivity has a darker side also.  There are trillions of transactions and searches made on the net every hour.  But on account of a lack of awareness of the safe use of the internet we give scope to criminals to interfere with one's life through the malicious act of identity theft, financial losses, and other crimes such as cyberstalking, bullying, harassment, children's exploitation, security breach, money laundering, etc.

Now, comes the question, what action/inaction do we need to undertake so as not to fall into the danger emanating from Cybercriminals. The first and foremost of all the precautions are being aware of data security. One needs to be vigilant about data security and online behavior to be protected against data theft and other related crime.

Here I mentioned some of the online behavior and other action needed to ward off the danger of cyberfrauds. These actions would to a great extent help people to be protected against cybercrimes.

1. Sharing personal details with the unknown: We should be very cautious in sharing our details with the unknown. Scammers are always on the prowl to befool us. They would come up with attractive schemes to obtain your personal information and then take advantage of your identity. One should always check the site's authenticity before passing off personal details. Normally, banks and other public institutions do not ask for your personal information online. Therefore always check the authenticity of the institution/website before sharing the details online.

2. Storing Card details and passwords online: By storing your card details such as  Card no., the password on your mobile is certainly an invitation to disaster. These stored details could be accessed by anyone who is close to you or one who has access to your mobile or when your mobile is lost or stolen. This gives the fraudster easy access to your credit card no./(s)pin, security code, and OTP no. to make unauthorized transactions without even needing your credit card.

3. Transactions on Public Wifi:  All internet devices broadcast air weaves. A hacker connected to the same router would be able to identify these air weaves and thus may get a chance to temper your transactions and your system. Thus while making any important transaction please always use a cellular network. 

4. Submitting copies of Government issued Identity Cards: Please do identify the purpose for which you are submitting a copy of your identity document issued by the Government whether Aadhar, PAN Card, Driving License, or any other document issued by the Government as proof of your identity and address of residence. For this, you need to write the purpose for which the copy of the document is being submitted, on the face of the document under your signature. kindly make it a regular practice otherwise miscreants may use your identity maliciously. It should always be worded -  a copy of the document(name of the document)  submitted for issue of internet connection, mobile sim, Gas connection, water connection, or any other purpose, etc. 

5. Using the same password for multiple accounts: It is often seen that people use the same password for multiple accounts. This tendency of using the same password in multiple accounts is fraught with danger. If the miscreant can access one of your accounts would be able to access all of your accounts. Therefore do kindly keep separate passwords for online accounts such as mutual funds, email, social media, Bank accounts, NPS accounts, Facebook accounts, etc. to protect yourselves from the hacking of your details and consequent losses. 

6. Use a strong Password: Having at least an eight-digit password is recommended. Your password must contain a combination of letters both small and Capital letters, symbols, and nos. This variability makes it difficult to heck. 

7. Reusing the same password: Firstly as told before never use the same password in multiple accounts. Further, the password once used in any account should not be used in any other account. This may give you a chance to fraudsters to get into your accounts and resultant losses.

8.  Check the authenticity of the URL: Always check the authenticity of the URL on the website before clicking on it. For this, kindly go to PCI/DSS compliant for any online transaction.

9. Update your software regularly:  This is a fact that Cybercrimials get into your system through flaws to gain access to the system. A regular update keeps on patching these flaws. Therefore it is necessary to keep updating your software and minimize the opportunities to compromise your data or personal information to your disadvantage. 

10. Avoid pop-ups: Be very cautious of fraudulent  E-mails or text messages Never ever click them. If an e-mail or pop-up asks for your username or password. Don't ever do it. A better way is to check it through your browser and visit the site. Contact them and get your query answered. If you are not convinced of their reply, do not use their site. Established companies do not ask for your login information through mail or through the internet.

11. Secure your internet network: Please use a very strong encrypted password for your internet network, so as not to allow others to use your network for unauthenticated purposes. 

12. Use of Pvt. network: Virtual Pvt. network reduces the possibility of Cybercrimes and also keeps your software apps safe for online use. A virtual private network (VPN) encrypts your internet traffic and makes it difficult and disguises your online entity. This makes it difficult for third parties to track your activities online. It hides your IP address by letting the network redirect it through a specially configured remote server run by a VPN host. Thus, when you search online the VPN server becomes the host of your data.

13. Management of Social media: One should always ensure that their personal information is always locked and should never be posted on Public platforms. Cybercriminals are always on the prowl for such information. Better these pieces of information are never in the public domain. So, always avoid sharing them. Further, revealing personal information such as maiden name, mother or father's personal information, and other very personal information such as your first school can expose the answer to your common security question on the internet.

14. Secure your computer and mobile devices: One can secure their system with firewalls and antivirus/ malware software. Firewalls are the first line of cyber defense. It blocks the connection to unknown or bogus sites and will keep off various viruses and their backers. 

Antivirus /malware software prevents viruses from infecting your computer by installing and updating antivirus software. Besides these certain other things are to be kept in mind such as installing the latest OS updates, keeping your application and OS  current with the latest system updates, and downloading applications from trusted sources.

15. Protect your data:  As foretold one should never share their personal information/details online. They should never be shared publically. Likewise your Tax return, Financial records should be kept in a separate file that is not accessible to other persons. They should be kept in safely encrypted files. Take regular backups and store them safely in another place.  

16. Keep your financial details safe: Fraudster employs several ways to deceive you by stealing your money, your records, or personal information by asking you to fill up certain details for getting some unheard amount of benefits. People do come into their net and part off their information to them and resultantly get cheated. Therefore, we should be very cautious of such popups, that come up with frivolous schemes and cheat people with their hard money. 

Kindly note that legitimate  Banks and companies will never be asking for your personal details or would never be asking to transact in any account. So, we should be very cautious of such frivolous elements who want to cheat the general public for their personal goals.

17. Protect yourself from identity threats: Your identity could be misutilized by fraudsters, who could use it to misrepresent you for online propaganda, issue of fake passport or get a passport issued in your name, fake immigration on your credentials, misrepresent you for another cyber crime, using your identity to get into the security zone, misrepresenting you in criminal activity or and accessing one's credit card, Bank account or loan account, etc. These threats can happen anytime and anywhere. Thus it is very crucial to guard your data.

18. Protect your Children from online threats: Children are very vulnerable to cyber threats and the best way to protect them from cyber threats is to educate them well about the threats.


The above-narrated ways and means to protect your data thefts will undoubtedly help you to get protection from these breaches. However, despite our best efforts and at times being negligent at some spots, we get befooled by cybercriminals. However, these criminals often at times test how vigilant you are against their attempts. Initially, they will cheat you with some small frivolous amount, but having tested you to be negligent, they will out of a sudden they will cheat you with a big amount and vanish away. We give hereunder the various other signals which tell that someone has already got into your system. So, watch for all these signals and take necessary corrective action. They do give some warning signs of identity theft. However, the problem with identity theft is that it is often too late when we can know that we have been fooled or coned. However, there are some indicators that, if we carefully take note of these indicators can protect us from oncoming problems.

1) Your bank statement does show some entry(ies) that do not look right. This small deviation could be a red flag and could be a sign that your account has been compromised and you could be a victim of identity theft. Check your bank account regularly and if you find any small irregularity, contact the Bank irregularity if you find any compromise, please close the account and open a new account and report the matter to the Bank of compromise in the account.

2) Check your credit card report regularly to see if you find any irregularities or charges that may not belong to you. If you find any irregularity, then getting in touch with your card company and informing them about the false charges is a smart move to protect yourself. Sometimes the miscreants initially make small charges to test you, if they find you negligent then they would swindle with a big amount.

3) Loss of your phone makes you vulnerable to stolen passwords, they are a warning sign that your banking detail / other accounts may be compromised. Please check all your account for the compromise, and take appropriate action in this regard.

4) Problem in filing a Tax return: You are finding problems in filing the Tax return. The possibility is someone has already filed a tax return in your name and the refund has been diverted into their account, You may contact the concerned authorities in this regard for appropriate action.

5)Problem in your mailing service: If you find that you are not receiving/able to send the mail from the mailing address, then there could be any bill and no communication from other related parties. This is sure a short warning sign. The fraudsters may be using your mail and may obtain a fresh credit card in your name, your personal information may be mis-utilized to purchase goods in your services, get a new mobile connection and accounts, upgrade services in your existing account, or get a duplicate of your existing mobile connection.

Therefore it is urgently required to react to any of these events happening, do not give anyone a chance to play with you. Take all appropriate action, so as to not get into a problem with compromising your identity which may result in a loss in your identity /money time. Even if any of these incidents happen with you or with any of your acquaintances, do make it point to immediately report to the cyber cell of the police.

So these are the advent effect of internet connectivity, its expansion, its uses, and the danger that it poses to the common man, we have tried to explain the precautions to be taken to avoid the dangers associated with the use of the intended services. Further primary signals have also been narrated which one showed a check for action to be taken after observing that the accounts have been compromised.

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