The Dark Shadow of Identity Theft
Identity theft is a real threat in this world. It has become rampant and vicious since there has been a proliferation of how we seamlessly contact and communicate with each other through channels like Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, and so forth.
This appropriation of individuality occurs when bad actors try to assume your identity while hiding in the sanctuary of a faraway place such as Russia or China. The criminals then use your credibility and legitimacy to do unpleasant things in your name. Ultimately, it is to illegally take away your money or other people’s money and to conduct nefarious activities with whatever information they are able to glean from your personage. This can suck your finances dry, ruin your credit rating, and become your worst nightmare. So how can you protect yourself ? The following provides a starter list to initiate a dialogue with your friends and loved ones, so that together you can put your collective guard up.
1. Don’t email, text, call, or develop an online association (“friend” on Facebook, allow to follow you on Twitter or Instagram, etc.) with anyone you don’t know. Reboot your phone daily to thwart smartphone hackers.
2. Don’t respond to anyone emailing, texting, calling, or otherwise contacting you through social media that you don’t know – even if (or especially if) he or she pretends to be a celebutante or megastar.
3. Avoid responding to requests for help unless you first verify with a direct contact via phone or video call that the person needing help is who they say they are.
4. Don’t respond to notices that say you can get monies you didn’t earn just by doing one final thing like giving up your Social Security number or bank account number, texting photos of gift cards, or placing funds in a Bitcoin account with a forwarding receipt. (Yes, people do these things, especially those who are vulnerable and innocent, the scammers’ preferred targets.) In other words, be aware of and manage the perimeters of your life. Don’t be tempted by alien offers of money or celebrity or flattery to think you are special and better, or can easily become special and better without honest hard work or effort. Remember TANSTAAFL – There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch. If it sounds too good to be true, in all probability it is.
This may have happened to you or to someone you know. But even if you haven’t been affected, remember this – the bad people are out there, setting traps for the unwary. Refrain from taking the first bite from this poisonous fruit.
Patrick J. Wood