A few years ago, when identity theft was a new crime, many people became victims via the simplest of schemes and ruses.
Nowadays, however, web users are far more educated about the risks and so the identity thieves are having to find new ways of committing their crime.
ID theft is still here for the long haul but those behind it have had to become far more inventive about how they trick their victims into revealing sensitive information.
PHISHING & VISHING
One of the more obvious forms of identity theft comes in the form of phishing which is something I hope you now know all about. (If you don’t then you can get detailed information here – Phishing – What Is It And How Can You Avoid It?)
To recap, phishing is a technique employed by identity thieves whereby they send emails to consumers that appear to be from a legitimate source, such as their bank or credit card company.
Said email will then ask the consumer to verify some important pieces of information, such as their account number, credit card numbers, or even their social security numbers.
Should you return the email, with the information that was requested, then an identity thief will have all they need to be able to start buying products and services in your name.
Such a scheme was incredibly effective at first but has become less so with time as people have wisened up to it.
A newer version of phishing, known as ‘vishing‘, doesn’t even require the victim to own a computer.
Instead they will receive a phone call, spoofed so that it appears to have come from their bank, which will require an account authentication process.
The hope here is that the victim will be foolish enough to tap or speak out their account number so that the thief can then steal it.
Pharming has also been around for some time now and tries to trick users into revealing information in much the same way that phishing and vishing attempts do.
The main difference, however, is that pharming is not conducted via email or the telephone.
Instead, pharming normally relies upon a computer being infected with a Trojan which then allows it to server up fake web pages which look identical to the genuine article.
Imagine that you open up your bank’s web page and are confronted with something that looks exactly like what you are expecting to see – you could be tempted to enter your information there couldn’t you?
The proliferance of pharming has led to consumers becoming more aware of it and search engines and browsers have begun offering tools which will flag up suspect pages.
This has led identity thieves to come up with yet new cunning plans…
One of the newer versions of identity theft being committed today takes advantage of the current economic climate.
With large numbers of people out of work, or looking to earn more than they currently are, employment websites are receiving unprecedented numbers of visitors.
ID Thieves have taken advantage of this fact and will trawl such sites looking for potential victims.
They will then pose as a ‘prospective employer’ when making contact with an individual who has posted a resume online.
They will then ask the applicant to submit themselves to a background check.
Job seekers will think that the information being requested is reasonable and that the requester is a legitimate recruiter.
They will often gladly hand over all manner of information, including names, addresses, dates of birth and social security numbers.
The lesson here of course is to never trust anyone with your sensitive information unless you are 100% certain that they will keep it safe and secure.
Whilst there are countless other scams used by identity thieves to gain access to information the basic premise remains the same -they extract information from people by gaining their trust.
Remember that people, and organisations, online are not always who they say they are.
Stay aware of these scams at all times and you may just avoid the headache of identity theft.