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“Identity theft is not a joke, Jim! Millions of families suffer every year!”
If you’re a big fan of the American comedy TV show, The Office as I am, you’ll know this iconic scene when Dwight mention this famous line to his office arch-nemesis, Jim who impersonated him as a joke.
It’s true what he said, identity theft is not a joke nor should it be taken lightly. According to MyCERT Incident Statistics 2018, identity theft cases in Malaysia increased by 20% from 371 in 2017 to 446 last year. Meanwhile, RAM Credit Information Sdn Bhd (RAMCI) recent consumer survey showed that 14% of respondents were victims of identity theft whilst 26% knew someone who had experienced it.
Identity theft or identity fraud happens when someone (could be a stranger too) misuses your most private information to their advantage and poses as the victim for fraud purposes. For example, personal data such as banking information, insurance policies, medical records and so on. Other things could include fraud impersonation, unauthorised transactions, data breach and account compromises are among the common ways fraudsters can steal your identity.
As mentioned, Malaysia is no stranger to being a victim of identity theft. An IT Manager was conned by an impersonator – that he was not aware of – who used his credit card and he ended up losing a whopping RM 26,428 including pending extra telco charges.
It’s also as easy as giving your full names, MyKad numbers, birth dates, bank account numbers, E-mail addresses, phone numbers, home and work addresses are among the types of data stolen. Fraudsters would sometimes use this information to open a new account under their name or commit online fraud and even transfer money out of the targets’ accounts.
One of the other common identity thefts that unfortunately happens to some of us is through social media itself. One of it happened to Kam, a company executive in her 30s, had fallen victim to an identity thief who created a duplicate Facebook account with her name and profile photo. You can see lots of this duplication of another through Instagram as well. Nowadays, there’s a setting for you to report a suspicious or fraudulent account to prevent identity theft from ever happening.
Heard of the MTV’s show called Catfish? That’s exactly what social media identity theft is all about. Catfish is another term for luring someone into a relationship by means of a fictional online persona.
Why is Identity Theft So Important?
Aside from the hurt and pain of what the families have to suffer from identity fraud, it’s also the fact of the humongous debt being born by the fraudster to the victim. Unless of course, the victim can prove it’s an identity theft case and your issue wouldn’t be much of a burden financially. Sometimes, you could also be receiving court letters or important letters and packages being missed out, takes a toll on an individual after knowing you didn’t do anything wrong or missing out on information, leaves the victim being confused.
How to be cautious?
Always monitor your banking statements and purchases that you’ve made. In that case, you are able to know the ins, outs and total balance of the money being put in. According to a survey conducted by iMoney in collaboration with CTOS, there is a lack of awareness of credit reports. An alarming 67% of the respondents don’t check their credit reports, while 52% are unsure of what affects their credit report.
It’s important to read the reviews and conditions before applying for a financial commitment and the prevention step you can use to ensure you are not being scammed.
Besides that, make sure you are very private when it comes to your passwords. If you feel the need to write it down then do it but it’s always best to memorize it by your memory so no one else could get a hold of it. Plus, don’t leave important document lying around as well. That would only make it easier for people to steal information about you.
Also, keep a lookout for suspicious people near the ATM machine and to cover the keypad when typing in your passwords.
RAMCI also launched JagaMyID Plus, an enhanced version of JagaMyID, a comprehensive credit monitoring tool for individuals to protect their personal credit health and safeguard against any identity theft with an extra value of 24 hours insurance coverage protection worldwide. With JagaMyID credit notification alert and credit profile movement service, you are enjoying 2-in-1 benefits at the same time.
How to deal with Identity Theft?
The first thing to do when you’ve known you’ve fallen victim to identity fraud is to immediately report stolen cards or identity information to the police or your banking provider.
This serious issue should be dealt with as soon as possible to minimise financial losses and further heartbreak. It’s important to educate your friends and family on this matter so no one has to be a victim of identity theft. You can read more from another article on the types of scams exist in Malaysia too. I guess all can agree that prevention is better than cure.