This is the last part of our series of blog posts that cover the topic of identity theft. In our previous post, we explained the key signs that would indicate you have been a victim of identity theft. We also included a simple identity theft self-assessment. In this post, we take the next step and discuss all of the actions you should take once you are sure your identity has been stolen.
Once your identity has been stolen, you must assume that the person who stole it has access to every one of your online accounts. They will also be able to take real-life criminal actions using your identity. However, it is the online accounts which can cause the most damage, in the shortest time. So, let’s deal with these first. But before you do anything else, make sure that the device that you are using is safe and clean of viruses, otherwise you may be giving the cyber criminal even more critical information!
Once you have covered these four issues, you have minimised the chance of an identity thief being able to use online transactions to commit a crime.
Once you have taken the emergency procedures above, it is time to move on to the things you should do after, in order to stop an identity thief using your identity in real life to commit crimes.
Some cyber criminals have no intention of using your stolen identity to commit theft or fraud. Some are far more interested in blackmail. Why? Because this type of crime can be carried out without ever having to put themselves at risk. It is entirely anonymous and leaves no paper trail.
Sextortion is a common form of blackmail that identity thieves often try. It can take many forms. In its simplest form, the cybercriminal will threaten to send compromising pictures of yourself to everyone on your contact list, unless you send them a certain amount in Bitcoin or some other cryptocurrency. This video report found on BBC News shows more on how it happens and what you should do.
The best way to deal with this kind of blackmail, is to contact the Garda. Often people will avoid this for fear of embarrassment, but please remember that this is a serious situation. There is likely to be an organised group of criminals behind the scenes, so the Garda will treat the case with its due seriousness and advise you on specific steps to collect evidence. However, there are a few things you can do to help yourself, while the Garda get up to speed.
It is important that you do not pay the ransom, as there have been cases in which the criminals continued to request higher amounts or simply released the threat anyway. If you are sure the blackmailer no longer has access to your email account, you can take the following steps:
A lost or stolen smartphone is one of the most dangerous events regarding identity theft. Consider all of the information that could be stored somewhere on your smartphone. Site logins, transaction histories, important files from work, and many sources of precious information. If your smartphone has been lost or stolen, take the following steps:
Another way of protecting yourself is to hire a private insurance or protection service. Specialist companies, such as Lifelock and IDShield, can help you to monitor key warning signs of identity theft by providing automated alerts in the event of a detectable threat, and often provide financial aid to cover your expenses and losses should the worst occur.
Some offerings will be included in addition to your regular home, auto and traveller’s policies, and you may be assigned a case manager who will personally assist you with recovery and the next steps you need to take to be safe.
Not only do these services save you time and money, but they can provide you with peace of mind.
Identity theft is a serious problem, and one that cannot be fixed instantly. Undoing the damage that a cybercriminal has done could take weeks or even months in the worst cases. We hope that this blog post is able to help you if you are ever to become the victim of identity theft.
If you need specific advice in a similar situation, feel free to contact us from Spector at 01 664 4190 and we’ll provide you with assistance.