Protect yourself from fraud and identity theft

I recently received an unsolicited job application from a young lady, which caused me to ponder the naivety of many when it comes to personal security.

The email, addressed to no one in particular, contained the following -
·         Scanned copy of her ID document
·         Scanned copy of her Drivers licence
·         Scanned copy of her Passport
·         Her CV, which provided me with -
o   Her cell phone number
o   Email address
o   Previous and current residential addresses
o   Previous and current employers

Now if I were a crook - this would surely be ‘manna from Heaven’.

And this was done by an educated young person, not an old fogey – so someone who should have known better.

We are living in an increasing digital age and with that comes the risk of cyber crime and identity theft.
I’m not anti-internet, nor a conspiracy alarmist, but when you share aspects of your life on social media and email (as most of us do), you need to practice some degree of caution.

So what could happen?
·         Someone could clone your identity
·         Incur significant debt in your name (purchase a car, take out a loan etc.)
·         Access and empty out your bank account
·         Clone or use your credit cards
·         Open additional credit cards and accounts in your name
·         Commit a crime in your name
·         Stalk you

Cautionary suggestions
·         Update your computer and online passwords at least once a year and keep a note of the changes in a physical book, hidden somewhere safe at home or the office. NOT on a piece of paper in your wallet or purse.
·         Don’t use the same password for all your accounts
·         Create complex passwords and email addresses which are difficult to crack. Don’t use a combination of your name and date of birth such as (hello!)
·         Create passwords with a combination of lowercase and upper case letters and one or two numbers. These are the hardest for hackers to decode
·         Don’t share your passwords with anyone
·         Don’t give out your personal information (date or birth, ID number, home address, bank account details) to strangers over the phone or via email – always verify their legitimately first
·         Shred confidential documents, receipts, statements etc. to avoid crooks retrieving information from your rubbish bin
·         Clean out your mailbox daily to avoid people stealing and opening your mail
·         Be mindful of what you share online – a photograph of your new home minus burglar bars or electric fencing could end up in the wrong hands
·         Ideally don’t put your address or phone number on Facebook – if a stranger needs to reach you ask them to inbox you so that the information isn’t visible to all on your public page
·         Be mindful of what information you have on your cell phone (photographs, passwords, emails, contact details of friends and family). Always keep your phone safe and protect it with a strong password
·         Back up your computer and phone regularly

Keep safe out there.

Article by Madge Gibson, Harfield Village Resident