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Identity fraud prevention

Identity fraud is a major risk for online users, with the possibility of financial, reputational and legal consequences. This blog delves into what businesses are doing to ensure online safety, key steps for staying out of harm's way, and the types of identity fraud that exist today.

July 5th, 2022

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The Tinder Swindler on Netflix recently took the world by storm. In the show, Simon Leviev posed as a wealthy, jet-setting diamond mogul and wooed women that he met online. He then successfully conned them out of around $10 million in a complex Ponzi scheme.  

However, although The Tinder Swindler is an extreme example of identity fraud, it does show us how powerful stealing someone’s identity can be. With this in mind, and to help you keep your personal information and your business safe, we’ve put together this guide to identity fraud prevention. As well as outlining the key definitions and how to prevent identity fraud, we’ll also show you how to stop your identity from being stolen from social media profiles.

What is identity fraud?

Identity fraud is a serious crime. The Metropolitan Police say that:  

“Identity fraud, or ‘ID theft’, involves the use of a person’s stolen details to commit crime.” They add that, due to the nature of the crime, “many victims never find out exactly how someone got hold of their details, and clearing things up afterward can be costly and stressful.”

Although identity fraud does often involve living people who have their lives turned upside down, criminals don’t always use the identity of a living person. Often, criminals will also assume the identity of a deceased individual or will create a brand new identity for someone who doesn’t actually exist.

It’s also important to remember that although identity fraud does affect individuals and can have lasting consequences, it also affects businesses around the world. This is because, if a business allows someone to make a fraudulent transaction, then it may face significant fines and repercussions for not meeting know your customer (KYC) regulations.

How can you prevent identity fraud attacks?

There are a number of ways that customers can keep their information safe. Steps you can take for identity fraud prevention purposes include:

  • Never responding to cold calls or emails
  • Not sharing personal information on social media
  • Regularly checking your credit report
  • Destroying and shredding mail
  • Securing your home Wi-Fi
  • Being careful on public Wi-Fi
  • Using complex, unique, and individual passwords for all accounts

How can businesses prevent identity fraud?

Businesses have a responsibility to prevent fraudsters from accessing their services. This is particularly true of financial gatekeepers, such as accountants, bankers, and lawyers.

Thankfully, identity verification software can make that process swift, efficient, and accurate. With the help of our software, you can:

  • Detect fake and tampered IDs
  • Extract and verify document data
  • Ensure compliance with anti-money laundering (AML) and know your customer (KYC) regulations
  • Make it easy for users to prove their identity

What's the difference between identity theft and fraud?

Although some people use the terms interchangeably, ‘identity theft’ and ‘identity fraud’ are different things and it’s important to distinguish between them.

While identity theft is the act of stealing personal, private, or financial information, identity fraud is the act of using this stolen information.

Examples of identity fraud

Sadly, identity fraud is an increasingly common crime and criminals are continually finding new ways of using stolen information. However, the most common examples of identity fraud occur when fraudsters use someone’s identity details to:

  • Open a new bank account
  • Obtain credit cards, loans, or benefits
  • Order goods in someone else’s name
  • Take out a new mobile phone contract
  • Obtain genuine documents like a passport or a driving license in someone else’s name

Examples of identity theft

Remember, identity theft is the act of stealing someone’s personal or financial information. Criminals commit identity theft by:

  • Stealing someone’s wallet
  • Intercepting post
  • Making contact with a potential target and pretending to be from a legitimate organization

What are the signs of identity fraud?

By regularly checking your financial records, you can stop fraudsters in their tracks. If you’ve become a victim of identity fraud, you’ll likely notice that:

  • There’s something inaccurate on your credit report
  • There’s suspicious activity on your credit card and bank statements
  • You’re receiving unexpected mail or some of your expected mail is missing
  • Your personal documents have been lost or stolen
  • You’re receiving suspicious phone calls, voicemails, texts, or emails
  • Unfamiliar devices have gained access to your online accounts

How to prevent identity fraud on social media

In The Tinder Swindler, Shimon Hayut presented himself as the son of Russian-Israeli diamond mogul Lev Leviev. In doing so, he used Tinder to contact women as Simon Leviev. He then tricked them into lending him money that he never repaid.

Of course, although The Tinder Swindler is the most recent (and most lavish) example of identity fraud, this is a problem that’s been associated with social media for a long time. In fact, identity fraud used to commonly be associated with the film and TV show Catfish, which has spanned almost 200 episodes. In the show, many people found that people they’d been corresponding with on dating apps and social media were entirely different from the people they thought they were.

Although social media provides us with numerous networking and socializing benefits, we need to be wary about the information we post online. After all, criminals will attempt to use the public information we post to steal our identities. To prevent your identity from being stolen from your social media profiles, you should:

  • See who can view what information on your profile. For example, your public profile may show your name, photo, gender, and birthday to strangers. If you can, you should leave these fields blank
  • Check your privacy settings. If you want to share personal information on social media, then you should make sure that only people you trust can see it
  • Make sure your connections are who they say they are. You should only accept connections from people you know. If possible, you should also verify your connections offline as well. This way, you can be certain that it is your friend who connected with you, rather than someone who is posing as them
  • Be careful what you click on. Fake ads and malicious quizzes can be used by fraudsters to gain access to the information on your profile
  • Use unique passwords. Make sure each social media profile has different login information. This way, if a fraudster gains access to one account, they’ll still be unable to access the rest

Download the identity fraud report

Sadly, identity fraud is more common than we’d like, and the above identity fraud prevention steps do not guarantee that you’ll be able to keep your identity safe. After all, our 2021 Identity Fraud Report revealed that:

  • Identity fraud makes up close to two-thirds of all fraud incidents globally and has doubled compared to 2020
  • Global fraud has increased in the U.S. & Europe, with Europe seeing its fraud rate double from 2020

If your business would like to know more about how to prevent identity fraud and the steps it can take to stop bad actors from accessing its services, then book a consultation with Veriff today. We’ll explain exactly how we can help you meet compliance and KYC obligations.

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