ID theft and what you can do about it

ID theft, unfortunately, is one of the risks of using the internet. Leaving the wrong information in the wrong place can lead to disastrous results. With the internet, it’s hard to know when this is the case so data protection is very important.

Once stolen, a criminal has access to your most valuable data. This can be all the information, such as passwords, user names and email accounts, needed to access your banking information. With such information, all your financial assets are at risk, since the criminal in question has enough information to pose as you online, thus stealing your identity.

The internet is vast, so you always need to be prepared. With the right prevention techniques, you can greatly reduce the risk of your identity being stolen. Of course, if such an event does happen, it also helps to know what steps should be taken, as the sooner these are taken the better you can regain control.

For those worried about the potential risk of identity theft, ALLOW, the London-based information privacy company, has created a unique insurance product that can help reduce your risks online.

The insurance forms an important part of the ALLOW Protect service and helps people deal with excessive junk email, block online tracking and, crucially, protects against online ID fraud.

Follow these tips to minimise your risk of ID theft:
Prevention
Preventing identity theft is, ideally, much better than having to fix the damage caused after it has happened. To this end, proactive steps can be taken to reduce the risk. The primary method of achieving this is being careful where you put your personal information. If it is not essential to whatever you are doing online, it is recommended you don’t store such information on your computer. Even if it is just sitting in your inbox, its information that any criminal will have access to easily if they do manage to hack into your computer.

Secondly, you should be careful where you enter such information online. Only ever use trusted sources. If you don’t trust or know the website that is asking for your details, then you should reconsider the information you would otherwise give them. Additionally, check the URL when you enter information. Traditional URL’s start with “HTTP” (Hypertext transfer protocol), the code used to transfer information.

This isn’t secure, anyone ‘listening’ in on the communication can easily decipher your personal details. Instead, only use websites that use “HTTPS” (hypertext transfer protocol secure) when asking for such data; this more secure computer code is designed to prevent would be criminals stealing your information in the process.

Additionally, you should also change your passwords every so often. Passwords should always be something that isn’t obvious. Information is easy to find out, so your mother’s maiden name, for instance, is not that secure an answer. Changing your passwords often will also make it harder for criminals to access your accounts.

If your identity has been stolen

In the unfortunate event that you believe your identity has been stolen, you need to contact your bank as soon as possible. They can help you take steps to lock your account, as well as monitor where it has been spent. This information can then be passed onto the police, to help track down the criminal.

As for your online presence, you then need to change all your passwords and other accounts, essentially block the criminal out of access to your information. A new bank card with a different number, for example, will stop any thief from using your card online, since they won’t know the new number.