What precautions should be taken to guard against identity theft?

While online payments and digital wallets have made life easier and much more convenient for all of us, they have also led to an increase in digital scams, including identity theft.

Anurag Sinha, Co-Founder and CEO of OneScore and OneCard says, “Usually these transactions go unnoticed and the person doesn’t know until the lender starts chasing them for repayment.

This is another important factor why it is important to continue monitoring your credit score regularly.

How can checking your credit score regularly prevent identity theft?

There are several free platforms available online that give you access to a free credit score and show your detailed payment history and discrepancies, if any, in your credit profile that could potentially lower your credit score. Discrepancies can be many – “closed accounts flagged as open, accounts incorrectly flagged as overdue or overdue, or the same debt listed more than once (possibly with different names with similar spellings to yours) are a few of these, if not dealt with in a timely manner can have a serious impact on one’s credit rating,” says Sinha.

For example, if there are any loans opened under your name that you are not personally aware of, you should immediately report it to your credit bureau for the same to be rectified. The overall rectification process takes between 45 and 60 days.

Sinha points out, “Proactive monitoring and immediate reporting of such errors can therefore prevent fraud or financial loss.”

Precautions to take to guard against identity theft

According to experts, identity theft or phantom loan cases have become very common these days and can happen to anyone.

Here are some tips and tricks you can adhere to to protect yourself against such scams;

Regular credit score monitoring – Regularly checking your credit score and reading your credit report can help you identify discrepancies that already exist or could potentially affect your credit score. Therefore, “Proactive credit score monitoring will provide everyone with the opportunity to take ownership of the situation and employ immediate measures to bring the situation under control before the damage becomes irreparable,” Sinha says.

Avoid downloading/registering with an unregistered lender – Unverified lending apps and portals can get you in big trouble. Sinha points out, “These apps can collect crucial banking data which can then be used to trick someone into financial fraud. It is always advisable to apply for credit only when needed and through a credit verified lender.

Sign up for mobile banking alerts – Signing up for SMS alerts/notification for all your banking transactions can be an ideal way to keep digital frauds like identity theft at bay. According to experts, they can help you do a thorough check of any unauthorized transactions while keeping you updated on your account activities.

Avoid using public/unencrypted wifi – Submitting your personal information/banking credentials for certain transactions using an unencrypted or public Wi-Fi network can help hackers gain access to your private information. Sinha explains, “Use of public wifi should be avoided for any financial/banking transactions and they should only be done via personal devices and internet connection.”

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