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What Is Identity Theft And How Does It Affect Your Digital Assets?

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Do you shop for products online? Or maybe browse social media platforms with your personal accounts? Then you’re already in possession of Digital Assets. 

The pictures you post on your social media, the documents you upload onto your cloud storage are all your Digital Assets. Now that we know what Digital Assets are, it should be understood that just like their physical counterparts, Digital Assets are also prone to theft and misuse, if not more.

But what exactly is identity theft? Unlike the theft of tangible assets, identity theft involves someone stealing your personal information and then using it to commit fraud without your knowledge/permission. While there are numerous varieties of identity theft, they can be broadly classified into –

True Name Fraud

Here, the thief opens a new account like a credit card or phone connection using the Personally Identifiable Information (PII) of the victim.

Account Takeover

This is used when the thief makes use of PII to take over the already existing accounts of the victim. Hackers can access your bank account details and make transactions impersonating you.

Criminal Identity Theft

This is when someone who is apprehended for a crime gives out the details of someone else instead of their own. The victims may not even be aware of this until they are charged with the crime of the perpetrator.

Now that you know what Identity Theft is, it is important to understand how your Digital Assets could be under threat and how you can protect them.

Identity theft can take place in a variety of ways.

Hackers

The internet connects people. That means those with the necessary skills can access your personal information which they can then sell to third parties, or use for themselves. They are also responsible for the massive data breaches that you hear about in the news where thousands of accounts are compromised.

Careless Browsing

The internet is a vast place, and you can very easily find yourself browsing shady websites if you’re not careful. Oftentimes, these websites could gain access to your sensitive information like your personal information, thus compromising it. Modern browsers often display a warning message in case the website is not secure.

Malware Attacks

Similar to browsing the internet carelessly, downloading files from unknown sources could end up with your computer being affected by malware that can steal your personal information. 

Credit Card Thefts

The identity theft you see happening the most in the media is credit card theft. This involves the thief accessing your credit card information, with which they can make unauthorized transactions. Hacking and physical theft are more often than not the primary reasons for this form of identity theft.

Scams

You may sometimes receive text messages, calls, or e-mails from shady sources claiming you’ve won a ‘grand prize’. The caveat is that you have to enter your personal information in order to avail said ‘grand prize’. Scams such as the one mentioned above are very common.

While they are the easiest to avoid, they are also what many people fall for.

With your Digital Assets being prone to so many risks, protecting them might seem like a daunting task. While not falling for scams seems like an obvious choice, there are some other steps you can take to better secure your Digital Assets:

    1. Keep a track of your bills and expenses. Any inconsistencies that may arise will thus be more noticeable, helping you realize that your accounts might be at risk early on.
    2. Avoid sharing any personal information unnecessarily. As in the case of criminal identity theft, the personal information that you might carelessly give away, like your social security number, could end up being used to impersonate you.
    3. Protect your Digital Assets with strong security software. Security software like anti-viruses protects your PC from malware attacks. Most of them also provide an added layer of protection when browsing the internet through additional software.

 

While the above-mentioned steps can secure your Digital Assets to some extent, thought should be given to what happens to them once you pass away. With no one to oversee what happens to these accounts, they become easily exploitable. Thus securing your Digital Assets following your death or incapacitation becomes a matter of great importance.

Unlike the physical assets that you can pass on through a will, Digital Assets will be in a state of Limbo once you pass away. This not only makes them inaccessible to your next of kin but also makes them prone to cyber-attacks. By making use of a Digital Estate Plan, you get to decide what happens to your Digital Assets following your death.

Sign up with Clocr to easily create a secure digital estate plan today!