Are you Self-Employed? Here are the reasons why your identity might be at great risk
If you are self-employed then you are aware that getting work largely depends on how well you market yourself. In most case, this means that you have to post your vital personal information such as full name, email address, geographic location, phone number and many more on several websites and even social media platforms.
Establishing your own online brand maybe as a freelancer or other relevant self-employed professional is the best way to make your business grow, but what you need to bear in mind is that, putting yourself out there only invites nit only potential clients but also problems. Between the private particulars you are able to post on public websites and the very important banking and tax information, you create a conducive environment for cybercriminals and hackers.
Well, definitely it’s not only self-employed workers who are exposed to the risk of identity theft. There is no doubt that we today have several people struggling to properly balance the need of sharing online information and at the same time protecting their vital data. But note that as a self-employed worker, your losing your identity to cyber criminals can not only damage your personal credit but also your source of livelihood.
Examples of Identity Theft
In most cases, the thieves open new accounts using your name, but a different billing address so that you never receive the billings for the newly opened accounts. After which they accumulate the charges and end up not settling the bills. Many have fallen victim of this and if you don’t monitor your accounts frequently, you will never realize until it’s too late to save the situation.
So what Types of New Accounts do they mostly open?
- Credit card accounts. These accounts are famous for fraud.
- Phone or even utilities accounts are also fraud for hackers. Someone can easily lease an apartment, get a new mobile phone, open new utility accounts without your consent, and live their dream using your money.
- Bank accounts that have new forged checks, duplicated bank cards and even loans.
- Fake government ID’s as well as your driver’s license with your photo replaced with theirs. Sometimes they can go to an extent of using your social security number (SSN) to apply for benefits or fill falsified tax returns.
With both your driver’s license and social security cards, they can commit crimes and get you arrested.
Guidelines for carrying out your own identity theft protection
Many financial institutions have strived to educate members of the public on various way of how they can protect themselves from identity theft. However, they have always missed to highlight the most sensitive tips that most hackers assume people don’t know. In this article am giving you first hand privilege to learn about those crucial tips that will keep you safe throughout.
- Map and properly manage your digital footprint.
Always know the current status of your digital footprint even before reducing it. You can use your name and several other personal details to do a few searches on numerous search engines just to know where you are listed. After having a rough idea of your digital footprint’s size, then you can embark on getting it cleaned up by removing inactive profiles and suspicious photos.
It is wise to critically think before posting anything online and be very careful on how you relate with others, be equally choosy when it comes to the venues you engage yourself in. If you frequently share your opinion, then consider how different people may interpret your message. Additionally, be thoughtful about revealing your place of work, as this can be used against you.
- Take extra safety measures with sensitive data.
Generally, Freelancers are required to give their banking information in order to get paid. It is however highly recommended that you limit the number of documents containing sensitive information, making sure every document containing it is secure.
If at all you store business info on your smartphone, or even tablet, make sure that they are protected with a secret password, more so when you have invoices stowed in cloud-based system.
Additionally, emailed invoices or forms having sensitive information should always be coded, and that any PC you choose to use for financial dealings must have latest operating systems and security features.
- Check privacy settings and policies.
When creating online profiles i.e. opening social media accounts, you’re definitely depending on third party systems to safeguard your personal information. It is vital to ensure that you are aware of the website’s privacy policies.
- Regularly monitor your accounts and report any suspicious activity.
The primary indication of identity theft is abnormal charges reflection on your bank statement or credit reports. Frequently checking your financial accounts and your credit reports are the top most act of defense when spotting fraud. However, a minor sign of identity theft is when an agency collecting debt contacts you regarding an account you know nothing about, meaning that someone opened a false account using your details.
Always contact the card issuer and the credit reporting agency any time you notice a suspicious activity. Constantly monitor your credit statements and remain watchful.
So, how you Report Identity Theft?
Firstly, get in touch with the police department. If you are positive that you have a record of all your personal activities, then you will have no problems in proving to the police that the new activities are as a result of a fraud committed.
Secondly, communicate with creditors who issued the newly opened accounts to the crook. Send to them a copy of the report you got from the police including all the info proving that indeed it is a fraud and stay in touch incase new activities pop up.
Lastly, close all of your current accounts and create new ones. Also don’t forget to modify your online passwords.