The use of someone else’s identity, such as their name, date of birth, current or prior addresses, to gain goods or services by deceit or commit a crime is known as identity fraud. These fraudsters are known as identity thieves. In 1964, the phrase “identity theft” was coined. Whether the victim is living or deceased, this form of fraud can occur. The majority of identity fraud is believed to be done for financial gain, such as gaining access to a victim’s debit card, bank account, or loan account. This type of fraud can be performed in a variety of ways, leaving victims with financial and reputational loss.
These fraudsters increasingly use computer technology to obtain other people’s personal information, sift through trash bins looking for bank account and debit card statements, search hard drives of stolen or discarded computers, hack into computers or computer networks, access computer-based public records, and then infect computers with information-gathering malware.
Children and the elderly are both possible victims of identity fraud. Children’s identity fraud can go undiscovered for years, and victims may not realize it until they are adults looking for loans or other forms of assistance. Doctors and caregivers are frequently given personal information by senior persons. They are vulnerable to identity fraud due to the large number of persons and offices who have access to their information.
The following are some of the types of fraud that can occur when an individual’s identity is stolen:
• Financial identity theft
• Debit card fraud
• Synthetic identity theft
• Mortgage fraud
• Medical identity theft
• Senior identity theft
• Tax identity theft
• Child identity theft
How can you protect yourself from identity fraud?
• If you receive an unsolicited email or phone call from what appears to be your bank asking for your security details, never reveal your password, log in details, or account number
• If you are unsure about the source of a bill, shred it properly.
• Examine your statements thoroughly and report any unusual activity to the bank or financial service provider in question.
• Unsolicited text messages should never be responded to, even if you want them to stop. Delete them.
• Store your personal documents in a secure location at home, preferably in a lockable drawer or cabinet. Consider storing important financial papers with your bank, such as stock certificates.
• If you’re handing your credit card or personal information over the phone or the internet, ensure sure no one else can hear or see what you’re saying.
What should you do if you’ve been a victim of identity fraud?
• All lost or stolen documents, such as international passports, driver’s licenses, and check books, must be reported to the appropriate organization/authority
• If there has been a case of stolen identity fraud involving debit cards, the first step is to block the cards via the financial institution’s mobile app so that the fraudster cannot use them.
• File a report with your local police department if you believe you are a victim of identity fraud involving debit cards, online banking, or cheques.
It is more about prevention than detection when it comes to tackling identity fraud. When dealing with personal information, the government and corporations should implement high standards like ISO 27001 and ISO 27701 in safeguarding data. Corporations should also adhere strictly to NITDA regulations on data privacy.
Individual on the other hand should be cautious on how they share personal information and how they react to unsolicited calls, messages, and mails. Personal information should be stored as remotely as possible and passwords to online accounts should be changed as frequently as possible.
Article by Oreoluwa Adegoke, CFE