4 Steps to Protect Yourself from Credit Fraud and Identity Theft
Here are some steps you can take to stay a step ahead of fraudsters, avoid being a victim of credit fraud, and protect your online identity
By Sujata Ahlawat
The Union Budget announcements had one very important milestone from a telecom perspective. With more than 50 crore Indians now having access to the internet, mobile data usage has jumped by 144% in 2018 compared to the year before. These milestone achievements are based on three key pillars: the availability of affordable smartphones, access to mobile data at a reasonable price, and the increasing number of telecom services in multiple regional languages.
However, with the rise in consumer connectivity, we need to be a bit more careful when saving our online data and sharing it. Our mobile phones are filled with personal details and even account information—exactly what online fraudsters are looking for. They can easily hack into our data with sophisticated tools to phish, vish and pharm and we may only find out when there has been a huge amount debited from our accounts, or in the case of a wrongly attributed credit card bill.
Sheer lack of vigilance is the real root of problems in this case.
Instead, let’s be a bit more conscious and careful with the way we handle our financial details and credit information. Here are some steps you can take to stay a step ahead of fraudsters, avoid being a victim of credit fraud, and protect your online identity:
Avoid transacting on a public wi-fi: Refrain from making any payments or transfers online when accessing a public Wi-Fi. Did you know that when connected to a Wi-Fi, your device broadcasts airwaves? A hacker (connected to the same router) can ‘listen’ to these airwaves and tamper with your transactions. If you are looking to make an important time-sensitive transaction, simply opt for a cellular network.
Minimize the exposure to your personal details online: Have you ever thought twice before uploading a personal document on social media? Your personal details such as your PAN, Aadhaar card, account number, and card numbers can be used by scammers to even open a loan account in your name. And you wouldn’t even know until you start getting calls from collection agents. Watch out, stay smart and protect your details.
Use encryption and tokenization to mask your details: Recently RBI directed card network companies such as Visa and MasterCard to offer tokenization services. Tokenization helps encrypt your 16-digit card number so that this is not revealed to merchants and strictly remains with your card issuer. Another way to protect your identity when transacting online is to use mobile wallets which help you store the card and tokenize the payments.
Monitor your credit score regularly: Tracking your credit score and report simply has to be the easiest way to monitor all loan accounts opened in your name. Though there are multiple sections in the report, your ‘accounts information’ section hold the details of all the credit that you have availed till date. Check this section for accuracy and if there is an account that you do not recognize as your own, it could be a case of identity theft.
Safeguarding financial details, especially credit information is critical. Why? Well, a high CIBIL Score can help you get faster, cheaper access to credit. And a compromised credit profile can negatively impact your access to credit.
If you have ever been a victim of credit fraud or identity theft, you should follow these steps immediately:
1. Contact your lender, notify them of the fraud. If it’s a credit card account, freeze your card immediately.
2. Register an FIR with the police.
3. Follow up with the lender to ensure that the fraudulent transaction (if it appears in the CIR) is removed and the appropriate details are provided to the credit bureau. Be vigilant. Be proactive. Your financial goals depend on it.
The author of the article is the VP and Head – Direct to Consumer Interactive at TransUnion CIBIL.
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