Social media is now one of the biggest sources of personal data out there. A lot of users put their full name, date of birth, parents’ and pets’ names, and sometimes even their full home address onto their profiles. If you have your privacy settings set to public, this data becomes available for anyone in the world to see. Criminals will often befriend their victims, pretending to be someone they’re not, in order to get information from people who have their privacy settings set to ‘friends only’.
Criminals can also use social media to get to know you. They can find out your hobbies, interests and friends and family names in order to make phishing attempts and other scams more personalised, therefore more convincing.
When you make an online application, shop, or create an online account, you are handing over details about yourself that can be used against you if they fall into the wrong hands. In most cases, your data will be kept secure by the company you gave it to, but unfortunately this can’t always be guaranteed.
Various companies, banks and organisations succumb to data breaches all the time. This is when criminals manage to hack into their security system and extract sensitive information about the company and their customers. This information could be anything from full names and addresses, to card details, health records and passwords.
A data breach can also be caused in many ways. Most frequently, this will be a criminal targeting the company or organisation directly and hacking into their systems, but it can also happen accidentally. For example, an employee could leave their laptop somewhere which contains sensitive information, or an email could be sent to the wrong person containing private files and documents. Or, maybe a rogue employees could decide to leak information about the company. Either way, data breaches can be very costly for the company and even more so for their customers.
Phishing is another major method that fraudsters use to steal information.
This normally comes in the from of emails and text messages which you believe has come from a reliable source (i.e. your bank or gov.uk). The message will try to convince you into handing over your personal information and bank details, or it may release viruses and malware that will attempt to steal information directly from your device.
Some criminals may steal or intercept post in order to get hold of your information.
In some cases, this could be someone physically stealing your post if you live in communal area where others access to it. Or, in other cases, a mail redirection could have been set up in your name without you knowing. Personal data can be stolen from things such as utility bills and bank details could be stolen from your bank statements.
A criminal can get hold of your bank details by physically stealing your bank or credit card. That way they will have everything they need to steal money from you.
A common method fraudsters use to steal bank details is through attaching ‘skimming’ devices onto ATM machines. The device works by reading and lifting information from the magnetic strip on the back of the card when it is inserted into the machine. Quite often, this can happen without you even knowing until you notice that money is being taken from your account that you didn’t authorise.
Once a criminal has enough information about you, they could take out unsecured personal and payday loans or credit cards. Once they have received the money, they will disappear, not pay the money back and leave you to deal with the consequences. You will find yourself liable to pay the debt, unless you can prove that your identity was stolen and it wasn’t you who took out the loans.
Even if you can prove it wasn’t you, you may still find that this has a damaging effect on your credit record for a long time and you may find it difficult to obtain any credit in the future.
Fraudsters have been found many times in the past to be committing crimes in the names of others by creating fake ID. These crimes could be smuggling illegal items in and out of the country or stealing money and information from others. If this happens, you could find yourself to be part of a police investigation where you may find it difficult to prove it wasn’t you.
A lot of criminals will sell your data over the internet to other scammers and fraudsters. The more information they have of yours, the more valuable it becomes to others and they can sell it for a higher price.
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Last updated: 23 January 2019 | © KIS Finance 2018 |