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Identity Theft Scams Explained

The internet has made our lives more convenient than ever before, but they have also made the lives of internet scammers easier as well. With our entire lives being on the internet, scammers are always looking for ways to get your personal information.

The best defence against these scammers is to know the most common ways they try to steal your information. Knowing and understanding these scams may help you to identify when they may be happening to you.

Senior Citizen Identity Theft

Seniors are using the internet like everyone else, but are often not aware of basic scams that the younger population see as obvious scams. The fact that they often have more money saved than younger people and are not as tech-savvy makes them prime targets for hackers.

Senior identify theft takes on many forms. It can be as simple as a younger person trying to trick the senior into providing their personal information or passwords. Below are 3 ways that scammers can attempt to get your information.

Mail Identity Theft

Not all scams are done through the internet. One of the most used and effective scams is through Postal Mail. These scammers will send you mail trying to impersonate an institution the senior deals with such as a bank. They will then request information and provide an address and postal stamp to send back.

Scammers can also change the address in which the Post Office sends mail. By using information that is typically easy to find, such as the seniors old address, they can use that info to update the post office file and have the mail sent to them as well. This is a common way that scammers use to collect benefit checks. In these events it is crucial to update the post office as soon as possible, if not the scammer will only continue to gain power and be able to steal and receive more of your information. 

Voice Phishing

Voice Phishing or sometimes referred to as Vishing is where scammers attempt to get you to provide personal information over the phone. The goal is to have the victim provide this information willingingly by pretending to be a professional.

These scammers will pretend to be professionals who work at a real company that you may deal with. They will use fake credentials, titles, and phone numbers to convince the victim that they actually work for the company.

These scammers typically try to create panic by telling the victim that their identity has been stolen, and they are there to help them get it back. A victim who is not aware of this scam is usually willing and happy to work with the scammer in order to rectify the issue.

Unfortunately after providing all the requested information, the scammer will then have everything they need in order to steal the victims identity. They will also often end the scam by telling the victim that since they acted quick enough that there is nothing to worry about. This will often put the victims guard down and provide a false sense of relief.

Pharming

With the internet being so popular, more than ever people are able to develop websites. One way that scammers use this skill is to create websites that look very close to or identical to websites you already know and use. They then redirect the victim to these fake websites in the hope of them inputting information such as their login and password. Once the person inputs this information, they are able to redirect the user and log them into the real website so that they are not aware that the cyber attack has taken place. 

Scammers will use different techniques to get you on their website. The one mostly used is sending you an email from what looks like a trusted source, and once you click on the link all seems fine. Little does the victim realize that they were redirected to a malicious site where they may provide sensitive information.

Emails received by scammers often look like they are coming from a legitimate company, but one great trick is to check the spelling. Example, if you were to receive a real email from Microsoft, it would come in as followed:

john.doe@microsoft.com

An email from a scammer would look something like the below:

john.doe@m1crosoft.com

When taking a second to validate the email we can see that the scammer has a One (1) instead of an i. In this case you should delete any email from an address like this one.

Are you at Risk?

In reality we are all at risk to some degree for Identity Theft. The single most important thing you can do is to be aware of how these scams work, so that you can identify them when trying to be used against you.

There are also a ton of great tools that we can purchase to help protect ourselves. One great and inexpensive tool is a VPN. If you want to protect yourself from these risk just search online and you will find great tools and articles to help you.

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