Identity theft: What it is and how to protect your data

Salvador Del Valle
February 23, 2024
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As technology evolves, so do the methods for carrying out identity theft, which represents a challenge for the safety of people and companies. For this reason, it is essential to understand how they work and how to protect ourselves from these types of scams.

Stick around to discover helpful tips to avoid becoming a victim of identity fraud and safeguard your personal information.

What is identity theft?

Identity theft refers to the acquisition and use of a person's data (whether personal or financial) without their consent, usually to obtain some benefit or commit some illegal act

According to the National Commission for the Protection and Defense of Users of Financial Services (CONDUSEF) A person's identity is made up of all the data that serves to distinguish them online, such as name, cell phone, address, social security number, fingerprints, bank accounts, license numbers and any financial or medical information.

The theft of any such information constitutes identity theft and is a security breach. It usually gives way to other harmful crimes such as:

  • Spending money with credit cards.
  • The creation of false profiles on the Internet with stolen personal information.
  • The purchase of mobile phone chips.
  • The dissemination or sale of confidential information.
  • Transfer money to other bank accounts.
  • Request for services such as electricity or gas charged to the person's name.
  • Identity theft to obtain medical care.
  • Obtaining account statements to monitor the flow of money handled by a person.

In addition to this, identity theft can have devastating effects for companies. From the various financial losses that these situations can generate to the damage to organizational reputation, identity theft has become a central dilemma for many companies.

How does identity theft happen?

Identity theft always implies the existence of some vulnerability, whether due to misuse of technology, poor security systems, or human failure. Some of the most common ways used to impersonate people are the following:

Phishing and fake emails

This is an online scam that consists of sending emails from sites or institutions that pretend to be legitimate, tricking users into entering the site.fraudulent domains and thus obtain your personal or banking information such as passwords, usernames, card numbers, etc.

Phishing has evolved and can currently occur in multiple ways such as WhatsApp or through QR codes, and can even be indexed in completely legitimate search engines.

Malware and malicious software

It consists of the use of malicious programs that alter the normal functioning of the equipment on which they are executed. These are used to collect confidential data without the person realizing it.

Social engineering

This method is characterized by not depending on technological vulnerabilities, but rather the criminal manipulates and tricks the victim into providing personal data. Typically, this type of identity fraud occurs in the direct social interaction.

Shopping in unsafe places

When you make purchases online and provide personal data to a site or company that does not have a good security backup, customers' personal information may be exposed.

Depending on the company, data such as account number, credit card numbers, cell phone number, etc. may be exposed.

How to protect yourself against the crime of identity theft?

Most of these crimes occur due to a lack of knowledge and attention to security on the part of users. So it is in your hands to protect your data to evade identity thieves, and you can easily do it by taking the following precautions:

  • Keep devices secure by taking advantage of free digital tools such as VPNs, secure browsers, and firewalls.
  • Regularly update systems and applications, as updates can bring new security features that help protect your identity.
  • Use strong passwords and change them regularly, especially those for financial services.
  • Have different passwords for each account or platform used. Do not reuse passwords to avoid possible massive leaks.
  • Do not share personal data with strangers.
  • Store your important digital documents in a safe place. You can upload them to different cloud storage services and set passwords to access them.
  • Do not share sensitive information online without verifying the source.
  • Do not answer text messages or emails that request information such as bank passwords, credit card numbers, dates of birth, account numbers, etc.
  • Use two-factor authentication whenever possible.
  • Educate yourself about online security to stay informed on the latest identity theft tactics. Some platforms like Coursera O Grow with Google They offer free and complete training programs.
  • Do not expose personal data on social networks.
  • Learn to identify fake emails and websites.
  • Avoid checking social networks, emails or carrying out banking operations using public Wi-Fi networks.
  • Carry out online transactions with sites that offer data protection systems and possible fraud alerts.

Companies can also take different measures to prevent identity theft. These actions will be essential to guarantee user trust and prevent cracks from being generated that allow unwanted users to enter. Some of the main measures that companies can take are:

  • Employ encryption algorithms strong enough to ensure the protection of sensitive company data.
  • Enable a Web Application Firewall (WAF) with the aim of increasing security in the provision of the services offered.
  • Use a password manager to access frequent sites within the company.
  • Hire an identity verification service that filters user input and verifies that their identity is not synthetic.

In Zenpli we offer the best identity protection system to shield the user experience in your applications. With a deep understanding of customer needs, Zenpli provides you with a robust and dynamic identity verification system in order to prevent fraud in your projects and business, facilitating the entry of users with appropriate characteristics and behavior patterns, and identifying those users with synthetic or stolen identities.

How can identity theft affect businesses?

Although there is a greater degree of user exposure to the consequences of identity theft, companies are also susceptible to suffering multiple negative effects from this type of event.

When a company is a victim of identity theft,you must deal with a serious conflict regarding reputation which usually generates the abrupt departure of many users who feel vulnerable and no longer trust the service offered, regardless of its advantages or relationship history.

The appearance of identity thieves also means putting the company's financial flows at risk, given that there may be fraudulent operations that involve large financial and fiscal losses for a project.

For example, a financial institution must report the incident to a higher control body, which will be the subject of investigations. In the case of the United States, the IRS could be in charge of validating the movements emanating from the period in which the fraud was committed, which implies a great loss of time and, above all, money for companies.

Likewise, in the Mexican case, the crime of identity theft can be investigated by bodies such as the Federal Trade Commission. When this type of inquiry arises, the company will suffer a great setback at a communication level, increasing the distrust and unrest by the users regarding said project.

Taking this panorama into account, the need for companies to incorporate solutions that allow them to anticipate this type of negative events and have control not only of the security of their users' data, but also limit the entry of Unwanted users with false identities.

Zenpli: The future of online security

Technology continues to advance, and with it so do methods of identity theft and fraud. For this reason, in the future, cybersecurity and identity validations will become even more crucial to protect personal information and data.

For companies, it is also a challenge to be aware of technological solutions to provide security to their customers and it is essential that this aspect be seen as an investment in quality of service.

In Zenpli We are experts and we help you face the challenge of Identity Theft within your business.

Through personal data validations and network analysis in account activation and post-activation, we have the ability to identify patterns and behavioral changes to detect anomalies, stopping bad actors without increasing friction for good actors.

We offer a solution in the form of an API for companies with the ability to cover all of the main verification processes or serve as a complement to the existing verification processes in the business.

Instead of validating each piece of data (such as email or phone) individually, we obtain a 360° view of the user based on their actions and behaviors. All of this is offered through our APIs, which you can integrate and have in production in your business in just a couple of weeks.

This capacity is associated with the basis of our system, which is based on complementarity as a central concept, allowing identity verification processes not only to consist of adding valid attributes, but also to verify a user with actions, preferences and patterns. of behavior.

This way of working makes the processes of Onboarding y KYC are much more solid, consistent and efficient in preventing scams and fraud, including identity theft.

That is why Zenpli is the best ally to elevate your clients' identity verification processes. ¡Contact us! Invest in security and gain business reputation thanks to our agile and versatile processes.