Top Tip Time – Whose ID is That?

This top tip is all about Identity Theft and the nastiness that the Internet Goblins along with the really undesirable types and an idea of what they can cause should they get hold of your identity or even the identity of an organisation.

So what is Identity Theft?

Well pull up a sandbag, grab a brew and I will tell you.

Identity theft happens when fraudsters access enough information about the identity of a person or an organisations (such as their name, date of birth, VAT numbers etc) to commit fraud. Identity theft can take place whether the fraud victim is alive or deceased or if a company is real or not.

I am aware of an investigation where a person had passed away some time prior and the family was left with the pain of resolving the ID theft of thier loved one.

I have also investigated several situations where the identity of a company was being used to attempt to purchase tens of thousands of pounds of product fraudulently. Fortunately due to the prior security awareness training delivered to staff members by me, the fraudsters didn’t get away with it.

If you are a victim of identity theft, it can lead to fraud that can have a direct impact on your personal finances and could also make it difficult for you to obtain a mortgage, loans or credit cards until the matter is resolved.

In the case of identity theft of a company it can have serious impact on finances and cash flow, brand awareness and future sales all of which can indirectly affect us all as individuals.

I hear you scream… So how can I protect myself and my organisation from these scalliwags?

Are you sitting comfortably? Then I shall begin.

Following are several things you can do to mitigate the risk of Identity Theft. There are many other things you can do so please feel free to get in touch should you require consultancy on them or further awareness training for you or people in your organisation.

  • Check statements: Watch out for any payments you haven’t made, and check that the correct amount has been debited for payments you have made.
  • Destroy documents: Make sure you shred documents before binning them especially if they contain important personal or business information. I find you can’t beat the theraputic nature of a good ol’ shredding session.
  • Avoid Cold Calls: If you have not had a conversation with someone before then don’t go handing money or personal details to them over the phone. If you are unsure of a caller then speak to a line manager or a friendly IT Security consultant. (I know a good one of them if you’re interested.)
  • Follow correct protocols: A switched on organisation should have adequate policies and procedures in place to follow, that help keep you and the organisation safe. Please follow them, if you dont know what they are or where they are then ask.
  • Keep your details hidden: Writing passwords down on your mobile phone or forgetting to cover your pin at the cash machine (ATM’s) are just some of the ways that physical fraud can take place. The best hiding place for a password is in your head.

Are you bored yet? No! Good then I will continue…

  • Choose strong passwords: This is particularly important for the extra verification services used on some websites. Never pick obvious passwords like your date of birth or simply ‘password.’ The strongest passwords contain letters, numbers and symbols. I will be posting on how to make super strong, yet easy to remember passwords in a future blog post, so watch out for that gem.
  • Stay secure: Before entering payment details online check the link is secure. There should be a padlock symbol in the browser window frame (not the page itself), and the web address should being with https://. The “s” stands for ‘secure’.
  • Set privacy settings: Make sure that it is not possible for the public at large to view personal information about yourself online or on social networking sites. This may provide an avenue for criminals to build up a picture of your identity or if you put details about where you work they can use your name as a method of identity theft against the business.

Its a jungle out there but you are all warriors for the cause.

Stay safe, stay secure, stay private.

Top Tip Time is a series of posts designed to attempt to get across significant subject matter, but in a more light hearted, non-geeky and user friendly way. They all loosely (and strongly) link to the services I provide through my business, BMGUK Consultancy Ltd (face it, I have a mortgage to pay so its all shameless self promotion).
They are a technique I have found, throughout my long and varied career, to have worked really well. Those that know me, I am sure, would give testimony to how much they have helped them to easily understand subjects and also made them realise that not all techie “experts” are arrogant,¬†condescending know it alls.
If you like them, please feel free to follow my blog and post a comment. If you have a burning desire to suggest a subject to be Top Tipified then please, go for it, get it off your chest, drop me a line and I will see what I can do.

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