While it’s not the most pleasant subject to think about when out for a spot of online gaming, identity theft is nonetheless a reality that has to be considered. For the simple fact of the matter is that now more than ever, those who take part in any kinds of online activities are at risk of identity theft. Whether shopping, banking, gaming or simply signing up to a mailing list, there will always be those out there who would like to get hold of your personal data to be used for their own personal gain.
The thing to remember is that while there is nothing to gain from approaching the web in general with a sense of fear and scepticism, you do absolutely need to look after your own interests. Identity theft has the potential to lead to a wide variety of rather unfortunate consequences, ranging from the mildly inconvenient to the disastrous.
Which is why it’s a good idea to know not only how to protect yourself online, but also the kinds of warning signs that may suggest you have been targeted by online crooks.
The Symptoms of Identity Theft:
In terms of working out when and where you may have been targeted by identity thieves, the biggest problem is that by the time you find out, damage has already been done. Still, it’s important to ensure that things are not allowed to get any worse, so be sure to act accordingly if you become aware of any of the following:
- Credit cards or anything of a financial nature arriving in the post that you did not apply for.
- Problems with your credit rating for no apparent reason.
- Applying for credit and being refused, despite having strong credit rating.
- Any telephone calls or letters that appear to be chasing debts that have nothing to do with you.
- Any kind of activity or transactions on your statements that you cannot understand.
- Suspicious activity with online accounts, including your username and/or password suddenly becoming invalid or are being changed.
Prevention of Identity Theft:
As is the case with most things, the best approach is to simply make efforts to avoid falling victim to identity theft in the first place. Contrary to popular belief, there is in fact a lot that anyone can do to protect their personal information, in order to make it as difficult as possible for cyber-criminals to do their bidding. It’s simply a case of balancing online enjoyment with common sense, following a few simple guidelines from the experts.
Keep it to yourself
For example, while it may seem relatively harmless at the time, it is never a good idea to share any of your login credentials with anyone else. This is because while you yourself may do a good job keeping them out of harm’s way, you never know who the other person may go on to share them with in the future. Your personal information should remain your own and only your own at all times.
No hard copies
Likewise, it is also important not to fall into the trap of writing down your login credentials at any time for any reason. This is because there is always a very slight possibility that the piece of paper will fall into the wrong hands, providing all the information they need to access your accounts. It simply isn’t worth doing – memorise your credentials and never write them down.
Quality sites and services
Another extremely important rule to follow is that of avoiding at all costs any online gaming sites or service providers in general that do not have a stellar reputation for safety and security. It should be made abundantly clear by whoever it is you intend to do business with whether or not they have the strongest possible regard for customer security and account safety. And if unsure, check out as many reviews and ratings as necessary before going ahead.
Don’t fall for phishing
One of the most common and effective approaches these days used by cyber criminals is that of tricking account holders into revealing their secret information by way of emails or telephone calls. The long and short of it being that no responsible business or customer service team should ever ask you to confirm things like your username, password and login credentials in general, either over the phone or by way of e-mail. If you ever receive an e-mail or telephone call requesting such information, 99% of the time it will be a fraudulent request.
A quick point but an important point nonetheless, it is up to you and you alone to make sure that the Internet connection you use is 100% safe and secure. You may not be able to tell the difference between a public Internet connection and a secure home connection at the time, but you are significantly more likely to be attacked over an open or shared public connection. On top of this, if you do decide to access any of your accounts or indulge in a little gaming in public, it’s a good idea to be very much aware of exactly who might be looking over your shoulder. It might seem far-fetched, but all it takes is a discreet camera, a powerful zoom and a couple of well-timed photographs to know exactly how to access another person’s accounts.
Report abnormalities immediately
Last but not least, if at any time you think there is any chance whatsoever that you may have been targeted, it’s important that you report it to the authorities immediately. The reason being that while there may not be any particularly noticeable consequences at the time, the longer you leave it, the higher the likelihood you will indeed suffer the consequences. And of course, this represents the perfect time to reaffirm the importance of frequently changing your login credentials, not to mention choosing passwords that cannot be easily guessed by hackers.