From 2013 to 2015, over 1,200 cyber crimes were reported to the Philippine National Police Anti-Cybercrime Group (PNP ACG). Of these, 127 (or around 10%) were complaints about cyber identity theft. Cyber identity theft happens when a victim’s personal information is collected and used for malicious purposes online, such as fraud.
Culprits acquire details about a potential victim to gain access to their online accounts by posing as them. Online identities are compromised once cybercriminals get their full names, addresses, birthdates, and so on, as these can be sold on the Dark Web.
Fraud is one of the most frequently committed crimes using stolen identities. Scammers and fraudsters may take pieces of an actual person and pose as them, or create a different identity altogether.
For one case in Bulgaria, a man managed to defraud over 60 people on the pretense of discounted airline tickets using a fake identity and stolen photos from another man. He managed to do this successfully, even though the people who claimed to have interacted with him have never seen him in person.
Aside from personal details, photos can be of some concern as well. In one case, photos of a woman called Natalya Ulyanina were stolen from her VK account and used to create a fictional person called Uma Kompton to troll others. Among other things, photos can be used for catfishing and creating fake personas for political propaganda trolls.
In some cases, identity theft becomes part of cyber-harassment or cyberbullying attacks. A victim’s account may be hijacked or an impostor account is created. From there, offensive posts or comments are created in order to smear the reputation of the victim.
Should you find your identity abused online, it will be hard to mitigate the damages. The first thing a victim should do would be to contact the site and talk to the admins. Secondly, it would be best to notify friends and family about the situation so they won’t be fooled the cyber identity thieves. Lastly, check on the activity of your other accounts and change the passwords if you must – you don’t know when the thief will strike next.
This article is part of the Banker’s Association of the Philippines’ (BAP) #CyberSafe campaign, where the BAP aims to promote awareness in cybersecurity. The campaign will upload new posts tackling common web security questions and issues on Wednesdays and Sundays every week.
For more content on cybersecurity, visit the BAP Official YouTube channel.