Here’s a quick quiz: Which form of theft has the biggest cost for its victims?
It’s identity theft! According to the US Department of Justice, online identity theft cost victims more than household burglary, motor theft, and property theft combined.
This is probably unsurprising as we run most of our lives online and on any given day you’re likely to encounter dozens of ways your identity can be stolen.
With that in mind, to learn which of your information you should not be giving up so easily, here are the 5 areas of information scammers tend to target most.
Your identification number, passport number, social security number or anything of that equivalent is like a golden skeleton key in the world of identity theft. With this information alone, scammers are able to open up all kinds of accounts under your name and access government documents.
Even your driver’s license contains a range of information about you. However, your passport number is often considered especially dangerous as scammers who get a hold of this can use your details for international travelling or offences.
In Malaysia, it is a normal practice to hand over your MyKad IC or driver’s license to security guards especially upon entering residential neighbourhoods, office buildings, or commercial buildings.
However, a 2007 circular by Ministry of Home Affairs (MOHA) has clearly stated that it is in fact not legal for unauthorised people to hold onto your IC. There are only 5 people authorised to hold your IC and they are:
This goes without a given. Financial account numbers are clearly one of the hottest targets for scammers when it comes to identity theft. This includes checking and savings account numbers, credit and debit card numbers, and retirement fund accounts.
People often use personal identifying information like their birthday, or the same PIN number across accounts. Putting two and two together, it is easy for scammers to gain access to your financial accounts by collecting a couple key identifying details.
If you often perform online transactions on your credit or debit card, you would know why this information is a favourite target for scammers.
All it takes for a scammer to go on a shopping spree with your card are your credit/debit card number, its expiration date, and security code (the few CVV digits usually on the back of your card).
Scammers employ certain methods of attempting to obtain these information such as through infected online terminals, or phone phishing scams pretending to be your credit/debit card company requesting for details.
Think about how many websites you have signed up on your email address. Your email address becomes your username for a lot of online accounts. Now imagine if all of them were to be exposed the moment a scammer gets access to it.
Many websites or e-commerce companies online would often offer you some form of free gift/download/coupon/discount in exchange for your email details. While these offers may be tempting, you might want to think carefully before handing out your email addresses so easily.
If you have been reading up till now, you would know why this point is a no-brainer. With the existence of social media, it is so easy to let everyone know whenever your birthday is coming up.
However, as most online service providers ask for this detail as a form of secondary confirmation, it is literally only one step away between scammers getting their hands on this information and resetting a password to your accounts.
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