If someone can steal your identity online (also known as cyber crime), they may be able to set up bank accounts, credit cards or other accounts in your name on the internet, and use them to buy things or get cash. They may also be able to access your real bank accounts and credit cards, and do the same with them.
There are a number of things someone may try and do to steal your identity online:
- Finding out your personal details, such as name, address, date of birth etc, from websites or other forums where you may have used them. This sort of information – as well as facts such as your mother’s maiden name or place of birth – are often used as security questions, and can be used by a fraudster to open bank accounts, take out loans, and obtain or forge copies of passports, national insurance cards and official documents. They can also use them to bluff their way into your accounts by contacting the bank or company involved and pretending to be you
- They can use software or cameras to get your credit card information or bank details, and use this to access you accounts. If you’re using a computer in a public place – such as in an internet café, or working while you’re travelling – they can also get your details by watching the numbers and information you type on your keyboard.
- Phishing is a technique fraudsters use to fool you into handing over your details by impersonating a real organisation you might be a member of, such as a bank, PayPal, eBay or webmail account. Phishing messages will often ask you to click a link and login to their website, for example to in order to ‘re-establish your account’, ‘confirm your phone number’, or other apparently genuine reason. But the link or address, while appearing to be real, will be actually be fake, and they will use your details to access your accounts.
- Identity theft or fraud isn’t always about stealing things or money. Sometimes people will set up accounts or ‘hack’ or hijack your real accounts and pretend to be you, just to threaten, bully or harass you. For example, by gaining access to your social networking accounts, someone can send out embarrassing or offensive messages which your friends and other people online will think have really come from you.