Technology offers convenience and information with just a few clicks. Equally, the same technology has the potential to impinge on one’s privacy. For instance, a socially active person is likely to compromise his or her personal details on the world wide web. While phishing and money scams on the internet made headlines earlier, recently there is an alarming surge in identity theft cases.
Types of identity thefts
False consumer durable loan: There have been many cases where scammers have taken consumer durable loans with fake address proofs. Since such loans are usually offered as instant loans, a thorough background check does not usually take place. What this means is, if a scammer has used your name, address, and copy of identity proof, he can make a purchase in your name via a loan. You may come to know about it much later only when the EMI cycle hits your account and you may have to argue your case with the bank to prove the scam.
False telephone connection: A mobile connection can be taken in your name by anyone who has your personal information. A fake identity proof made in your name or even a copy of your original identity proofs can be used for this. This number can be used for any financial transactions in your name. Even your online banking transactions can be controlled in this way.
False loans and credit cards: Imagine someone having access to copies of your identity proofs and property documents. This can be used for taking credit cards or even mortgage loans in your name. If you happen to become an unfortunate victim, you will need to fight a longdrawn legal battle with the bank to prove your innocence. Worse, your credit score may already have been damaged.
How to safeguard yourself
Do not disclose personal details: Never share your financial details or identity proof online, unless it is verified and authentic. Many people list out their emails, phone numbers, bank account details or copies of id proof on online forums or in response to some emails.
Hand over identity proofs only to reliable agencies: There are many bank DSAs and financial agents nowadays who work as insurance advisors, loan agents etc, both online and offline. Never hand over your personal documents to anyone unless they are from a reliable agency. If the agency is not screening people before recruiting them, they can use your sensitive information and documents for identity theft.
Keep a check on your account statements: Make sure you check your bank account and card statements for any unwanted entries, even they are small ones. They might give you warning signals about any possible identity breaches.
Transact safely online: Make sure you always use encrypted connections while punching in your financial details on phone or computer. Most public Wi-Fi zones are ideal targets for scammers waiting to steal your personal information. Do not use any unsecured Wi-Fi networks unless you are sure about the safety aspects.
Use official banking app, weed out the unwanted: Always use the official app or official net banking channel for your bank while undertaking any financial transaction. There are many apps and sites looking similar to the original. Do not install any and every app. Check constantly if any app is accessing your personal information that is not linked to its activity.
Social media: Do not disclose all your personal information on social media websites. Check your security permissions so that your details are visible only to friends or people you know well in person.
Third-party sites: Always make a purchase at websites which offer a secured SSL-enabled payment gateway. Buy from authentic and well-known websites and keep your information safe. Financial fraud is rising and alarmingly so, but with some precautions you can be safe in the virtual world and keep your identity secure.
The writer is founder & CEO, BankBazaar.com