How to Prevent Identity Theft Online?

Identity Theft

A person’s identity defines who they are far beyond their full name. It allows them to navigate daily life comfortably and create meaningful relationships. When it gets stolen, you may be perceived as an outsider in society or be wrongfully alleged of unlawful activity.

We also cannot ignore the substantial financial, emotional and psychological harm victims may face. This is why identity theft protection is something everyone should take seriously.

Identity theft: what should you be aware of?

Identity theft refers to the practice of someone using another individual’s sensitive data to commit a crime in their name. The target information includes (but is not limited to):

  • Names

  • Dates of birth

  • Bank account/credit card numbers

  • Passwords

  • PINs

  • Phone numbers

  • Physical addresses

  • Login credentials

  • ID/passport numbers

  • Photos

  • Medical records

Here are some of the popular types of identity theft.

Criminal identity theft

Here, the offender classifies themselves to authorities as another person when they get arrested. They would present content like a fake ID with the impersonated individual’s details or other stolen credentials.

Financial identity theft

With this stealing of information, the thief aims to use the data for monetary gain, often by transferring money, obtaining credit, or buying various goods using the victim’s name.

Identity cloning

Here, the thief looks to conceal their personality with someone else’s by:

  • Concealing their illegal status (in the case of immigrants)

  • Hiding from creditors

  • Posing on social media under another person’s name

Medical identity theft

Here, the thief receives medical care using someone else’s particulars. What may also happen is that the offender’s medical history is mixed with the records of the targeted individual. This can present false information and affect the insurability of the original person.

The techniques for obtaining data in identity theft are varied, occurring both physically and digitally (and not limited to):

  • Dumpster diving

  • Skimming cards using card readers

  • Phishing

  • Shoulder surfing

  • Brute-force attacking passwords

  • Eavesdropping

  • Stealing cheques

  • Befriend people on social media and dating sites

  • Pretexting

  • Infiltrating organizations known for having a large database

  • Putting up bogus job offers to accumulate CVs

  • Malware

  • Physical theft of bank cards, ID documents, passports, etc.

Online identity theft protection is vital. Without it, you can experience serious consequences that we will cover a little later.

Tips to prevent identity theft

Here are some beneficial advice pointers to protect yourself.

Use 2FA authentication

You should implement two-factor verification across accounts with identifiable or sensitive content where possible. 2FA can act as a barrier to deter some from breaching you. Still, you should choose the best channel for 2FA, preferably an authenticator app instead of an SMS.

Use strong and different passwords

One simple but overlooked tactic to avoid identity theft is to use an unpredictable password. Firstly, it would take too long to guess, even for a computer. Due to the complexity, it is less likely to appear in a public data leak where many people may have a similar password.

In this regard, it’s just as crucial to use a different password for every platform. This is another mistake that many people commit. Never using one password for multiple accounts reduces the chances of a broader data breach.

Regularly check your credit card and bank statements

You should always be aware of every transaction in your bank account and/or credit card, no matter its size. Another useful measure, where possible, is to ‘freeze’ your credit with the relevant credit bureaus.

Here, you or anybody else cannot obtain credit without additional verification. This move can thwart any attempt of a criminal to use your name to obtain debt.

Look for encryption

Encryption is a massive part of our daily lives, from online shopping to reading emails on your device. It remains the core of safeguarding against online identity theft cases. With the help of special encryption tools like, people can share passwords and other confidential files with front-end encryption so no one other than the intended person can view this content.

Shred private info documents before disposing

It may seem unusual, but some thieves partake in dumpster diving to salvage any useful documents. Nowadays, it’s not enough to tear up these pieces of paper and call it a day. A shredder is an effective measure to destroy this evidence in a way that no criminal can put the pieces back together.

Use private browsing or ‘incognito’ mode

If you suspect being a victim of identity theft, you should consider going ‘incognito.’ Privacy browsing is available with all modern browsers. This feature was designed to allow users to surf the web without any browsing history saved onto their device.

Protect your credit card info

Credit cards can be a goldmine for fraudsters if you haven’t reached your limit. You should understand that no genuine financial organization asks for card details over the phone or by text. When dealing with physical statements, shred, shred, shred.

Also, consider extra authentication when accessing your credit card and use strong passwords.

Disable cookies on your web browser

If intercepted, a hacker can exploit your cookies in various ways, like ‘hijacking’ your browsing sessions. In many cases, you also have third-party cookies where the website may collect your data to exchange it with other entities.

Turn on web browser blacklisting

You should find this feature in all popular web portals. It’s a mechanism where you can add potentially malicious sites to a blacklist that prevents you from interacting with them.

Avoid using social media accounts to sign in

Signing up to websites with your social media login instead of creating an account has become popular in the last few years. It’s a convenient and time-saving way to use a service. However, by linking two accounts, potential thieves can access more data from a single platform.

Make purchases on reputable websites

Buying stuff on shady sites isn’t one way to prevent identity theft online. So, how do you verify what’s safe and not safe? A strong indication is whether the site uses an HTTP (not encrypted) or HTTPS (encrypted) connection.

Of course, you must dig into the company’s reputation and read previous reviews where possible.

Ignore or block messages from unknown senders

Whether it is SMS, email, or social media, you can always direct strange messages from unfamiliar sources to a junk or spam folder. The better option is, of course, to simply block these.

Avoid using public computers

The advantage of using your own computer is you know what security measures have been implemented. We cannot say the same about public computers at your local internet café, library, or even a friend’s house.

So, avoid using these devices, particularly for transactions where you need to input personal information.

Protect your home Wi-Fi with a strong password

Wi-Fi devices generally come with generic admin or network passwords. So, the first step is to change these into something impossible to predict in a reasonable time. Also, you should encrypt your network for extra security.

What are the consequences of identity theft?

Identity theft consequences can vary widely. Here’s a look at them now.

Spam and other unsolicited messages

On a relatively small scale, you could begin receiving spam emails and calls. Your closest contacts may also be targets where they may quickly become prey to phishing and similar attempts.

Financial burden

Identity theft risks related to finances are well-documented, where criminals can siphon money out of your accounts or make unauthorized purchases on your behalf.

The victim’s information can be used to create fake documents like passports and driver’s licenses which may then be linked to many crimes.

Many reported cases exist where a person has substantial debt after their name was exploited to set up bogus foreign companies.

Also, with medical identity theft, you could receive massive bills for services you never initiated. Overall, it can take substantial and expensive legal work to clear your name, not to mention the emotional distress one may experience.

Account takeover

When a criminal has taken over multiple accounts, they can extract information for different purposes like:

  • Selling data to the dark web

  • Altering certain information like phone numbers, passwords, and addresses for their own gain

  • Redirecting unemployed benefits

Wrongful charges

Where personal details are used in criminal activity, this may result in the charges being placed under the victim’s name, freeing the criminal from liability.


Everyone knows of a person that’s been the target of identity theft, which is getting worse yearly. If not protected against, this fraud can damage one’s finances, career, credit history, and reputation. Sometimes, it can even result in an unwarranted criminal record.

The only way to stay safe is to step ahead of the thieves and implement the measures discussed here to prevent identity theft.