Identity Theft (Hacking and Fake Profiles)

ElitePersonalFinance
Last Update: February 13, 2021 Fraud Identity Theft Scams

What is Identity Theft?

Identity theft is basically when a person pretends to be somebody else without that individual’s permission or knowledge to either benefit or cause harm. An identity thief normally takes on another individual’s identity by using their sensitive personal information, including the person’s address, name, date of birth, email, and social media log-in details.

When most people think about identity theft, they imagine someone using another individual’s credit card or bank details to trick the person into buying something or even to steal money from them. But don’t forget that this is actually not the only way it can occur.

Is Identity Theft Illegal?

Identity theft is a crime. It’s illegal to have somebody else’s sensitive personal information with the sole intention of committing a crime. It is also illegal to use, give or make somebody else another person’s sensitive information with the sole aim of committing a crime.

How Does Identity Theft Happen?

Even if you think something is a harmless prank or just a joke, it could still be a major crime. The following are some examples of identity theft, which could easily lead to punishment and criminal charges.

Creating a Fake Social Media Profile

Creating a phony social media profile about somebody else may seem like fun, but it can be categorized as identity theft. If you decide to use someone’s personal information to create a fake online profile to commit a crime or even assist in committing a crime, you can face criminal charges. This would actually include harassing or offend someone or even creating a fake account.

You could also be breaking the social media site’s rules of use. A good example is Facebook. It doesn’t allow you to create an account for another person without their permission or even create more than one individual. If you choose to break all these rules, you are not committing a grave crime, but Facebook can certainly stop you from continuing to use its platform.

Hacking into a Person’s email or Social Media Profile

It is unlawful to access an individual’s emails, social media profiles, or online instant messages using their password or login details without their consent. If you access this information without a person’s permission and you plan to use it to commit a grave crime, such as identity theft, you will certainly face more severe charges. Also, it’s illegal to change someone else’s login details or even password for an online site without their consent.

Example:

Sarah and Jessica go to school together. When in the school library, Diana accessed Mila’s password-protected email without her consent. Diana had seen Mila’s email password clearly written in her diary when in class. Diana sent an email to everyone in their class pretending to be Mila saying, “I hate you all, and I am so much better than everyone here.”

Diana might end up facing criminal charges as she has opened Mila’s secure email account without her consent. She might also face charges for identity theft.

What Will Happen to Me if I Do it?

If you know someone else’s login details and password for online sites and use them or give them to someone else to commit a particular crime, you could be charged with identity theft and easily face up to seven years behind bars.

Think about the different types of password-protected on your computer. This basically includes all the work on your school computer, all your emails, and all of the content on your Facebook page. If you access somebody else’s protected material without their authorization, you could face up to 10 years in jail. If you gain access to somebody else’s password-protected content and think of committing a grave crime with that data, you can easily face more than five years in jail.

What Can I Do to Stop it?

There are many ways you can protect yourself against identity theft.

  • Always monitor your online profiles

If you think that someone may have hacked into your personal account, immediately change your password and consider deactivating your account. You should also contact the website administrator. Their details are usually on the bottom of the website page.

  • Stop posting too much sensitive information on your online profiles

If you would not want every person in the world to know it, then don’t put it online or on a social platform. Remember that any information you put online about yourself could be used to guess the answers to your security questions and also hack into your social media, online messenger accounts, or even email.

  • Always keep your login details for social media and other accounts safely

Use different passwords for every website. Don’t use something simple that can easily be thought of like “12345”. Always make your password difficult to crack. The best passwords usually have eight characters or more and should include a number, a capital letter, and a symbol. Also, try to avoid telling other people your password.

  • Be cautious when letting others use your own computer or even when using a public computer

Ensure that you are always sign out of your social media websites or email account. If you use a public computer and don’t sign out, other people may access the websites you had open. Never let your password details be saved to a publicly used computer. When other people use your personal computer, make sure that they don’t access your accounts without your permission.

  • Be careful when banking or making online purchases

Only transfer money or make online purchases from safe and secure websites. If you feel a website is untrustworthy, don’t buy anything from it. It is possible that your information could be stored and passed on to other people without your permission.

  • Be careful when clicking links

Only click on links to websites that you know are safe. Never download files from websites that you can’t trust.

  • Be extra vigilant with junk emails

You may receive emails that say that you have won money, a holiday, or an iPad. Be extra careful when giving out your personal information in response to these emails. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

What If This Happen to Me?

Tell an adult that you trust. They will be able to give you advice on whether further action should be taken.

If you’re feeling upset and don’t know who to talk to, you can call the Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800 at any time of day or night to chat confidentially with a counselor.

Record evidence. Print off any fake pages, emails, or profiles and store them in a safe place just if the authorities need them.

Report the identity theft to the website administrator. They may do their own investigation and remove any offending content.

Example:

If somebody created a Facebook profile with your personal details, report it to the administrator by:

  • Going to the timeline of the fake profile.
  • Click and then select Report/Block.
  • Select Submit a Report.
  • Choose this person is impersonating someone.
  • Follow the on-screen directions to complete your report.

Then what?

If you have impersonated someone, you should immediately contact them to apologize and instantly delete any fake pages or profiles you might have created.

Talk with an adult that you trust about what you have done. They will be able to give you advice on whether further action should be taken.

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