Online Identity Theft: How to Protect Your Digital Privacy

Online identity theft is a growing threat to everyone. Learn what identity theft is and how to protect sensitive personal information from data breaches and other criminal activity.

In our everyday lives, we rely on computer networks to connect with the world around us. Many of us do our banking, make purchases, manage insurance policies, and check details from major credit bureaus from our home computers or mobile devices.

As more and more people transmit or store data on the web, identity theft victims grow in numbers every year. What is identity theft and how can you protect yourself and your family from the risks associated with cybercrimes like identity fraud or online impersonation? Let’s explore this challenging topic.

What is Identity Theft?

Identity theft, sometimes referred to as ID theft or identity fraud, is defined by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission as an act that happens when someone steals your personal information for the purpose of committing some type of fraud.

In essence, identity theft occurs when a person’s personal identifying information is lost, either through a data breach, physical loss, or through spoofing an individual to reveal personal information via email, telephone, or mail.

While identity theft can take many forms, there are several specific types that people should be aware of:

“True name” identity theft — when a person’s actual identifying information is used to commit fraud or related crimes. This is the most common form of identity theft.

Synthetic identity theft — where a criminal uses a combination of real and fake information to commit crimes. For example, a criminal will steal credit card information from one person, a Social Security number from another, and an address from a third to create a false identity.

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