ID Theft Awareness
Millions of Internet users have their identities stolen each year. Perhaps you or someone you know has fallen victim to what has become one of the UK's fastest-growing crimes, but with this expert advice, you will know the specific steps you can and should take to greatly reduce your potential risk.
- Beware of the word ‘prevent' – No person and no product can 100% prevent identity theft. As long as criminals can benefit from stealing, there will be theft. Sensitive personal information (SPI), such as banking or credit card account information, is everywhere, housed and archived in a mind-boggling variety of ways. Individuals and companies can reduce access to SPI and improve safeguards around it by working to change how we share, collect, store and dispose of information. As a general rule, Monster does not collect SPI. When it comes to protecting SPI, exercising vigilance is always your best bet. And be sure to research any product or service that guarantees identity theft prevention – buyer beware.
- There Are no guarantees – This mantra holds true for a lot of things in life, and dealing with identity theft is no exception. While a number of instances of fraud can be restored to pre-theft status, some identity dilemmas simply can’t be fixed. If you’re on the ‘no-fly list’ thanks to an imposter or error, you’ll stay there. A third-party solution cannot deliver a remedy. Once again, research any product or service before enlisting their help in restoring your pre-theft status. You also must realize this restoration takes time, and you need to work through the system for reparation.
- Watch for ‘shoulder surfers’ and ‘skimmers' – Shield the entry of Personal Identification Numbers (PINs) and be aware of people standing entirely too close by when using your credit or debit card in public. Especially with the advent of mobile phone cameras, a sneaky, shoulder-surfing thief can get your private information pretty easily if you’re not careful. It’s also advisable to use cash machines that are familiar to you, so you are in a better position to identify when the equipment looks different or doesn’t feel right. Your increased awareness may reveal a skimmer’s attempt to steal PINs and banking details at that site.
- Destroy computer data – Erasing data just enables the computer to write over that space again; it doesn’t actually eliminate the original bits and bytes. Physically remove the hard-drive to ensure you’re not tossing out or passing along your personal details.
- Don't choose ‘remember me’ – How many websites do you frequent that invite you to enable an automatic log on the next time you visit? Don’t check that box! When convenience trumps confidentiality, you’re asking for trouble. The harder you make it for hackers to follow your trail into an online store or bank account, the better.
- Don’t rely on fraud alerts or credit freezes – Fraud alerts are meant to stop an identity thief from opening new accounts in your name. Credit freezes let you restrict access to your credit report, which would also make it hard for someone else to open new accounts. But neither one will stop a thief from trading your SPI for cash or using it for tax fraud or in any of the countless other ways fraudsters exploit stolen identities.
- Practice prudent posting – Online social networking sites enable individuals around the world to chat, share photos, recruit employees, date, post CVs, auction property and much more. Because the Internet makes it possible for any posted document to link with another, any information you put online has the potential to stay there for what amounts to electronic eternity.
- Keep the key – When you check out of a hotel where you were issued a card-key to unlock the door to your room, don’t leave the card-key behind. Hold on to it until you’re safely home and can shred or otherwise discard it safely. Some say it’s an urban myth that card-keys hold vital details like credit card numbers, while others report having tested and confirmed the presence of private data coded into the magnetic strip. Even if there’s no definitive answer, why risk it?
- Back-up your wallet – Make photocopies of the personal material in your wallet: driver’s license, credit cards, donor cards, all of it – front and back. Should your wallet be lost or stolen, you won’t be left wondering what was actually taken, and you’ll be able to quickly notify the appropriate people about what has happened.
- Identify phishing emails – Phishing emails are used to fraudulently obtain personal identification and account information. They can also be used to lure you into downloading malicious software. The message will often suggest the recipient’s account has an issue that requires immediate attention. A link will also be provided to a spoof website, asking the recipient to provide personal / account information or download a file. Monster’s Fraud Prevention Team reminds you that Monster will never ask you to download software to access your account or use our services..
- Conduct a safe job search – Be mindful about the type of information you include on your CV, especially if it will be posted online. You should never share personal information with a prospective employer until you are confident the employer and employment opportunity are legitimate. While it's reasonable in the early stages of the hiring process for employers to ask you for information about your education, training and qualifications related to a prospective job, don't provide proprietary information until you're farther down the road and have conducted due diligence to review the company's background.
Monster’s Fraud Prevention Team adds that while fraud is prevalent online, it tends to be focused on companies that derive their business from online purchases. As Monster is primarily a free service and the contact information found in a CV can just as easily be located elsewhere (e.g., telephone listings), you can be assured that posting your CV on Monster is a safe way to conduct a job search and manage your career. However, you do need to be prudent about what personal information you share.