Recent statistics show that identity theft is on the rise, with
a 57% increase in the number of identity thefts in the last year.
Individuals in their thirties and fifties saw the biggest
According to the fraud prevention service Cifas, social media
has become a "hunting ground" for fraudsters and
identity thieves, and it's not hard to see why. While some
information fraudsters use is gleaned from hacking, social media
often provides a number of pieces of the puzzle – contact
details, addresses, full names, dates of birth, places of birth or
employers. This can either be from individuals' profiles, or on
their or their friends' posts. That information can then be
used to apply for credit cards, online payment accounts or take out
mobile phone contracts. People wouldn't give burglars the keys
to their homes, but when it comes to identity theft; it appears we
are doing just that.
The risks of sharing too much personal information online may
not just be to you. The information which is of use to identity
thieves may well also be valuable to hackers and other criminals
wanting to attack the companies for whom those individuals work.
Cyber security measures can easily be unlocked if an employee has
unwittingly given the hacker the keys. As my colleague David Prince
set out earlier this year,
individuals are often the weak link exploited in cyber
The first you may know about your identity having been stolen is
when unusual activity appears on your bank or credit card
statements or you receive unusual emails, text messages or post. So
what can be done to protect yourself and prevent identity theft?
Here are five quick tips:
Think before you post any identifying
information online. Review what your friends post about you and
analyse what is already out there. Can you take any steps to reduce
Choose usernames and passwords
carefully and apply the strongest privacy settings to your social
media accounts – restrict access to your profile/posts to
people you know;
Be aware of phishing attempts,
suspicious friend requests or links sent to you;
Carry out credit checks – often
the first sign your identity has been stolen;
Consider how offline actions –
planning applications, company ownership etc – can impact
your online footprint.
When it comes to identity theft, taking as much care about
personal information as you would in the real world is paramount.
Having a burglar alarm means burglars will target less protected
homes. Applying the same thinking to your personal information and
online footprint will have similar results.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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While companies prepare for the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) to take effect in May 2018, another highly significant item on the agenda is arguably the current review process of the proposal for a Regulation on Privacy and Electronic Communications (ePrivacy Regulation).
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