Hackers – they can be a right bunch of bastards. Sure, we love them when they’re helping a plucky hero save the world in an action film. But when we are their targets, and it’s our money they’re looking to pilfer, well then they can jog on.
If you’re asking yourself “Has my identity been stolen?”, don’t just sit there bewildered, be proactive about it. So how do you know if your identity has been half inched? Well, apart from watching all your money magically disappear from your bank account, you can try this lot…
1. MONITOR YOUR ONLINE BILLS FOR SUSPICIOUS TRANSACTIONS
Stop holding out for that piece of paper to come through the post at the end of the month. We’re living in a digital age now, so make sure you’re making the most of the identity-theft-detecting discovery systems already at your fingertips. Like, y’know, online bills and statements.
With every major bank letting you track your spends instantly online or via a dedicated smartphone app, there’s no longer any excuse for not spotting suspicious activity on your accounts. As well as small sums going to companies you’ve never heard of once a month, you can see if there are any big-budget shocks before it’s too late.
Sure, the other half might not believe it wasn’t you withdrawing £200 at a nudie bar at first, but they’ll be pleased in the end that you noticed.
2. FEAR THE PHISHERS
It’s not just fellas in grubby overcoats rooting through your bin for a dirty bank statement who can steal your identity. The easiest way – and the one you really need to be wary of – is email phishing scams.
These tend to come in the form of legit-looking emails from major companies asking you to reset your online account details, including dropping in your address and bank details. DON’T DO IT, YOU CRAZY BASTARD! No straight-up seller will ever ask for your bank details to reset your account, so don’t fall for it.
3. SEE WHAT’S GOING ON AROUND YOU
Still worried that your internet has been compromised and some smug mug is running around with your personal information? Well, there is a way you can check this out. The aptly titled website hasmyidentitybeenstolen.com lets you input your email to see if your details have been nicked and put on sale on the Dark Web – that bit where all the dodgy folks hang out.
Don’t want to reveal yourself? Inputting your postcode lets you see how many identity theft crimes have been reported in your area. Sounds like a scam in itself, especially when you have to fork over a bit of cash to get the nitty-gritty of where your information might have gone, right? Well it’s not. In fact it’s so legit that the BBC roped in the site’s boss as an expert on an episode of Rip-Off Britain recently.
4. MAKE SURE YOUR WIRELESS CONNECTION IS SECURE
You might want to take a step back and start being a bit more selective about which wi-fi networks you jump on in a bid to see what’s happened across your 14 social services in the last four and half minutes. Free WiFi is great and all – it’s like free chocolate, it’s always going to get you excited – but it’s not always safe.
Open WiFi networks can leave you vulnerable to unwanted attacks that could leave you compromised. If you’re worried about a network, hold off on that “urgent” Snapchat upload and wait till you’re back on a private network.
5. ENSURE YOU’RE ON TOP OF YOUR FIRMWARE UPDATES
We all know it’s a pain. Installing the seemingly endless updates that pop up on your laptop, smartphone and even your sodding TV eat into your essential procrastination time, but take a step back from your latest Netflix binge and hit “update”. It’ll be worth it.
These patches often provide plenty of security-boosting tweaks, and who’s going to turn their nose up at free safety? These free patches often help protect you again the latest viruses and closes off newly discovered vulnerabilities that could leave your personal information open to those with ill intentions.