Online Identity theft and how it can affect you and your family

Online Identity theft and how it can affect you and your family

Online Identity theft. How it affects you and your family

Online identity theft is the deliberate use of someone else’s identity in the form of (name, Social Security number, credit card information, etc.) to gain a financial advantage or obtain credit (and other benefits in the other person’s name. It is a crime that is on the rise and most people are not even aware they are victims. That is how serious it is. You may say it does not affect you or it is impossible for that to happen to you. But what about your kids? How strong is your email password and how secured is the family computer or your kids’ devices?

Types of Online Identity Thefts

Online identity thefts are vast. It includes medical, financial, criminal and child identity thefts. Let’s start with the Medical Identity theft, someone identifies himself as another person and gets free medical care. In financial identity theft goods, services, credits are obtained using someone else’s information. This is the most common type.

With the child identity theft, children’s identity is used for various gains. And this is the type that is on the rise. These cybercriminals gather children’s information with ease through children social media platforms.  According to Robert Chappell Jr’s book on ‘Child Identity Theft: What Every Parent Needs to Know’ there are about 1.3 million kids who are affected annually and 50% of them are younger than 6.

How do these perpetrators do this:

Phishing/Email Scams

Phishing email scams involve sending an email to various email addresses with an aim to trick victims into revealing sensitive, personal information such as passwords, banking/credit card information, Social Security number, mother’s maiden name, date of birth, etc. This information is then used to steal your identity and assets or open credit card accounts in your name.

Pharming

This happens when a cybercriminal redirects online traffic from a legitimate website to a fraudulent version that looks like the real thing. Hence, when you fill out your information on a “pharmed” site, it’s sent over to the hacker.

The Effects online identity thefts have on you and your family

It can make you emotionally unstable, you feel violated, helpless, angry and scared especially when you can do little or nothing to help the situation.  As in most cases, the law enforcement hardly investigates such cases or the process is very slow as there are just a lot of identity theft occurring almost at same time.

One effect of online identity theft have on families is the loss of benefits. If the perpetrator has your social security number, that individual can use some of the benefits intended for you and your family. An example of such benefits is your medical benefits. In this situation, the perpetrator is able to receive medical treatments using your name and when this happens, you could be denied medical treatment that you need if your annual benefits are used up by someone else. This endangers the health of your family members as both you and your family are unable to obtain medical attention when they need it.

Additionally online identity theft affects you and your family is by creating financial problems. The cybercriminal can gain access to your bank account and take money from you it directly or can also open a credit card in your name which can put you into debt without you even spending any of the money. Cybercriminals can also make away with the money you have kept for the future, as a result, affecting your retirement plans or your children’s education.

An example of such a case is when a family’s identity was compromised. “Bill received a letter from his oldest daughter about a loan she did not apply for. So he decided to check out the credit ratings of the remaining 2 kids he has. The second little daughter’s credit was good, but the third child Mike aged 7 was compromised. As a father, he was heart-broken, because Mike, his son may never be eligible to apply for a student loan or other benefits when he gets to college. The police and the credit company were contacted to fix the issue but they were told it would take years to resolve it”.

Being a parent, it is your responsibility to protect your family from such things. Here is what you can do:

  • Never download email attachments (e.g., pictures, games, electronic greetings) unless they’re from someone you know.
  • Have strong password mixed with figures and alphabets and if you use the same passwords for all transactions.
  • Shop on authentic websites
  • Delete messages requesting your bank details and other personal information
  • Do not answer questionnaires

Make sure your kids are browsing secured websites. Using mSpy parental control app will assist you in knowing know which websites your kids visit. It allows you to block inappropriate websites and apps that may be asking your kids personal information. Also educating your children about online safety issues is greatly encouraged. Once their identity is stolen it will be very difficult to repair.

mSpy – Know. Prevent. Protect.

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