Internet hacking and ID theft
Hardly a week goes by when we do not hear of a major Internet hacking issue including ID theft.
I myself became a victim of ID theft a few months ago when somebody opened 3 bank accounts online with a High Street bank in the name of Tony Byrne rather than my full name of Anthony William Byrne and used a previous home address of mine. It cost the bank several thousand pounds. Laundered money was paid into the account and then spent using the overdraft facility that was arranged.
I first became aware of the issue when I failed a credit check which surprised me because I know I have an excellent credit record. On further investigation by the bank and the police my credit record was eventually restored to normal. I was advised to join CIFAS which is a UK non-profit fraud protection service. This I did.
I then checked my ID on the Internet and removed any reference to my past address especially from Companies House as I own a number of limited companies. Previously it was compulsory to display your home address at Companies House but it is no longer required.
I strongly suspect that my personal data was obtained from the communal post box in the block of flats where I used to live. Some post was still being delivered there in spite of my notifying everyone of my change of address. I have now written to the few remaining organisations to remind them yet again of my change of address.
My fiancée advised me to not use public wi fi because it isn’t secure and it is apparently very easy to hack into your personal data in places such as restaurants and coffee shops for example. I now only use 3G or 4G on my devices when I am out and about.
There is a useful service called https://haveibeenpwned.com/ which will notify you if your personal data has been hacked. I input my personal email address and discovered that there had been data breaches in my accounts with LinkedIn, Dropbox and Adobe! I have now changed my usernames and passwords for all 3 accounts.
I know several people who have had money taken from their accounts fraudulently. The good news is that in every instance the bank has refunded these customer in full. Fortunately this has never happened to me.
I even heard of a case whereby an individual who was in the process of buying a house was defrauded by a fake firm of solicitors who tricked him into paying the deposit of £30K into an account that didn’t belong to that firm. What fooled him was that the email he received from the “solicitors” contained one letter that differed from the real email address. He was unable to reclaim the lost money! A very expensive mistake.
So the moral of the tale is to be very careful to protect your personal data and be vigilant to check everything online closely. If you follow the tips in this article you will dramatically reduce the likelihood of you suffering from ID theft and fraud.