How Safe Do You Think You Are Online?

How Safe Do You Think You Are Online?

A guest post from a hightly respectable writer we know well.  Thankyou.

You may never know how serious online security and identity theft is until you fall victim to one of these fraudsters. Imagine one day you get a call from your bank about an unpaid $ 10, 000 credit card charge that you have no idea about or in a more extreme scenario, the cops bust down your front door, arrest you and accuse you of money laundering (this may be going over the edge, but is happens!). From top celebrities, to everyday individuals, no one is beyond the reach of identity thieves.

Everyone with a bank account is a potential victim of cybercrime. Maybe you have heard about the case of Carlos Lomax who stole the identity of Will Smith, opened 14 credit cards, and racked up a balance of $34,000 in his victim’s name. In 2013, Kim Kardashian wasn’t spared, as Luis Flores stole Kim’s identity and transferred over $71,000 from Kris Jenner’s account to his own account. Other victims of his scheme were Tom Cruise, Ashton Kutcher, and Paris Hilton. It may interest you to know that Luis also had the SSN and bank information of Beyoncé, Michelle Obama, and Bill Gates.

The internet is laced with countless cases of identity theft. You have criminals hiding behind fake usernames and pretending to be people they are not. And here’s what you need to know: it is easy for people to search and find your personal information online. With only a few keystrokes and malicious intentions, an identity thief can find your name, address and phone number.  Someone who knows where to look can find even your mother’s maiden name, your SSN and your security passwords. Your information is not safe online.

Usersearch.org is a website that you can use to check the Internet to see if there is any unauthorized person using your information. Doing a search on Usersearch.org can quickly alert you to any suspicious accounts that may be someone’s attempt to clone your information. Simply visit Usersearch.org and type in a username that you use regularly online. For this example, I used a random name, “Caroline”. Click on search.

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As you can see, there’s an option to search for usernames, emails, mobiles, and website tools (locate a company owner using their IP address). Searching for a specific username, email address or mobile number will show you all the different places online where your search term can be found and the websites tools search option can be used to find detailed information by entering an IP address. The “find forum user” option is still under construction. The Username.org search results let you see and verify that your information is being used only in places that you know about. Now let’s go back to our search for the username “Caroline”….

Wait for it…

There were about 23 search results. Here are some of them:

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You can see that the search results show several different social media platforms where the username “Caroline” is being used. I took it a bit further by clicking on Caroline’s Twitter handle and boom!… I was able to see ‘Caroline’s twitter profile just like that.  The search actually works.

Let’s look at this critically and assume I am an identity thief.

First I search for a promising username. Next, I look through their social media provides and see what they are posting about. What they are saying and who they are following. I will also download their images. And finally, I will create a profile using similar name and send requests to their friends. With this, the ball has been set in motion to perform fraudulent activities such as scamming people, asking for money and performing other heinous crimes under the guise of someone else.

Don’t be fooled by thinking that cybercrime is crime is purely a technical problem with a technical solution. An anti-virus or firewall may be effective when protecting your computer but there’s very little they can do keeping your online identity safe. So next time someone is talking about online security, you should realize that you are actually not as safe as you think you are. The Internet in filled with trails of your activities and you may be the next victim of an identity thief. Don’t be a victim – check Usersearch.org regularly to ensure that your information is not being used without your consent.

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