The Dutch National Anti-Fraud Hotline reports that online identity theft if the fourth-leading type of fraud in the country. In the first six months of 2018, some €1.5 million of money were stolen from victims accounts. How do criminals commit identity theft and how can you stop it? This article will explore these issues as well as offering several tips and tricks on how Netherlands’ citizens can stay safe online.

How Does Online Identity Theft Happen?

One of the most dangerous things about online identity theft is how many ways it can happen. Most people think identities are only stolen when you answer a spam email or visit a bogus website, but there are far more ways than that . Here are a few:

Phishing: Phishing involves sending you emails from what you believe to be a trusted company in hopes of having you download a bogus attachment or respond to a link that takes you a place in hopes of stealing your password, online ID, or personal information. Malware: Malicious software is rampant these days and download itself onto your computer and begin parsing your data for useful information. Unsecure websites: These websites can emulate a trusted website and try to get you to buy products and enter your credit card information. Weak passwords: The bane of IT professionals existence are those employees who use “Password1” as their password. When you don’t take your passwords seriously, cyber-criminals can use algorithms to overpower them and access your accounts. The worst part is that they usually won’t change your password or shut your account once they’re inside the walls; instead they’ll make themselves at home and continue gobbling up your data as you add to it. Pharming: Amazingly, your entire browser can be hijacked by a virus without you even realizing it. When you put real web addresses into the address bar, you go to a fake site instead and your password information for that site is stolen.

Ways to Keep Your Identity Safe Online

Here are a few tips and tricks for staying safe online:

It’s that simple. If you weren’t expecting an email, don’t click on it, especially if appears to be an offer that is “too good to be true.” If it’s from a business or bank you know. Type the website of that bank into your browser and see if the offer exists there.

2 Mix up your passwords:

What’s worse than having one password stolen? Having one password stolen that you use on eight different websites so that suddenly all of your financial information is exposed.

3 Don’t accept social media invitations from people you don’t know:

Whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or LinkedIn, don’t say yes to invites unless you absolutely know the person behind them. Very often these are people trying to get into your page with some sort of spyware to infect your system and steal your credentials.

4 Use a virtual private network (VPN):

All requests and uploads you make are sent through the tunnel to the remote server, where they are decrypted, then sent on to the website of your choice. Anyone trying to hack your computer might be able to tell you are online, but they won’t be able so see what websites you are visiting or what you are uploading or downloading.

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