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Iden­tity theft

Iden­tity theft (also called iden­tity fraud) is a scam involving someone’s user account – i.e. their iden­tity – being mis­used by a third party. In the process, attackers either hack a per­sonal account or create a new one in the name of their victim. Their aim is to ille­gally gain from their actions, or to damage someone’s reputation.

This is how you pro­tect your­self against iden­tity theft:

  • Be eco­nom­ical with any per­sonal data you dis­close and wary when doing so.
  • Use secure pass­words.
  • If pos­sible, also acti­vate your so-called two-factor authen­tifi­ca­tion options.
  • Never for­ward any PIN codes received, and don’t con­firm any SMS or Mes­senger messages.

You may receive an e-mail with “Urgent” in the sub­ject line, saying some­thing like: “Dear John, I urgently need your help. I am cur­rently abroad. I was robbed, and my credit card and smart­phone have been stolen. I now need CHF 500 for my return flight home. Could you pos­sibly remit this sum to my Western Union account as soon as you can, please? I will of course repay you as soon as I get back.”

E-mails like that are not uncommon. Fraud­sters hack an e-mail account or a social net­work account (e. g. Face­book) and go beg­ging con­tacts for money.

The above e-mail is one poten­tial shape iden­tity theft could take – but there are many others in today’s dig­ital world, too: Fraud­sters open and/or take over a social net­work account and entice “friends” to click links. They open a PayPal account in a false name and start shop­ping. They shop using strangers’ credit cards. They fraud­u­lently access e-banking facil­i­ties and siphon off money.

If you sus­pect a fraud­u­lent identity

On the Internet, it is no problem at all to pre­tend you are someone else. Your name, date of birth, address, tele­phone number – in our dig­ital age, it is not always easy to check the spread of such infor­ma­tion. A healthy dose of dis­trust is there­fore appropriate.

If you notice a poten­tially forged user account or a false iden­tity, you should follow the rec­om­men­da­tions below.

This is how to pro­ceed in sus­pi­cious cases:

  • To verify someone’s iden­tity, ring the person in ques­tion and ask them a couple of ques­tions which only that par­tic­ular person could answer.
  • In case someone fraud­u­lently pre­tends to be a person you know: Let the real person know immediately.
  • Notify the plat­form provider of any poten­tially faked account. The more people report such an account, the quicker it will get deleted.

Stolen iden­tity

If you find that you are affected your­self and that someone is abusing your iden­tity, you should take imme­diate action. Some indi­ca­tions this is the case could be:

  • Inex­plic­able trans­ac­tions on your bank account
  • Spu­rious pay­ment requests
  • Pass­words cor­rectly entered into user accounts which are not accepted
  • Mes­sages by friends or acquain­tances stating they have received unusual e-mails, SMS or Mes­senger mes­sages from you which you never sent

This is how to pro­ceed in fraud cases:

  • Imme­di­ately change your pass­word for the account involved, or block it.
  • Notify the plat­form provider of this fraud case.
  • Let your friends and acquain­tances know about this fraud case.
  • Let the Nationale Zen­trum für Cyber­sicher­heit (NCSC) know using their report form, and also file charges with your local police station.

A dig­ital iden­tity con­sists of data describing a real person on the Internet. These are usu­ally linked to a per­sonal user account. A real person can have sev­eral such user accounts (e. g. e-mail, Face­book, e‑banking, etc.) on the Internet. Some data making up part of your dig­ital iden­tity are for instance your name, date of birth, address, e-mail address, account number, etc.

What else would you like to learn about security when e-banking?

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