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An hacker attempting identity theft and title fraud.

6 Ways Online Identity Theft Can Happen to You


December 24, 2023

Nowadays, digital identities are relevant to all aspects of life: while social media shape and influence our personal and professional networks, several online accounts deal with the task of managing our financial position and privacy. In this article, we will explore six ways your identity can be stolen online and how to safeguard yourself from these threats, with a particular focus on the latest trends related to identity impersonation and title fraud.

As 2024 is approaching, it is evident that our daily lives are increasingly taking place online, through a wide variety of digital platforms. That’s why protecting your online identity has never been more crucial.

For property owners - and especially for landlords relying on their properties as their main source of income - the risk of identity impersonation, usually a gateway to identity theft and title fraud, is a growing concern that cannot be underestimated.


While it may seem easy to detect, identity impersonation frauds can be surprisingly sneaky, and even the most tech-savvy individuals might find themselves in dire financial predicaments should they let their guard down.


Let's now take a step back and see all the most widely used scamming techniques employed by fraudsters online to try and acquire sensible information from unsuspecting victims.



1. Phishing Scams and Email Spoofing


Phishing scams are a common method employed by cybercriminals to steal personal information, including your identity. These scams often involve fraudulent emails that mimic legitimate institutions, such as banks, government agencies, or property websites.


These emails typically ask for sensitive information, including your login credentials, social security number, or financial details. You need to be extra-cautious about sharing personal information via emails: verifying the legitimacy of any request with the respective institution is always the best route.


Phishing and spoofing can also be used to carry out title fraud by impersonating real estate agencies or fake buyers and vendors.




2. Fake Property Listings and Identity Impersonation


Property listings are a typical breeding ground for identity impersonation frauds. Cybercriminals may create fake listings for rental properties or homes for sale, posing as legitimate property owners.


Unsuspecting renters or buyers who respond to these listings can find themselves entrapped in identity theft schemes. To avoid falling victim, it’s always better to be wary of property listings that sounds just too good to be true: conducting thorough background checks on property owners or estate agents will help you uncovering the net of deception fraudsters can masterfully lay out to lure you in.





3. Weak Passwords and Data Breaches


As you might have already guessed, a password such as ‘yourname1234’ is not the ideal synonym for online security.


Generally, using weak or easily guessable passwords – as well as using the same password on different accounts - makes you extremely vulnerable to identity theft.


Moreover, data breaches exposing private login credentials can put your identity at risk, therefore being informed of data breaches that involve one or more of your accounts is crucial to ensuring online safety.


To mitigate this threat, use strong, unique passwords for your online accounts, enable two-factor authentication where available, and regularly change your passwords.


These are all quite simple actions you can take right now without spending much time, yet they represent an important barrier against cyberthreats, especially when compared to sheer negligence and absent-mindedness.





4. Social Engineering Attacks


Social engineering attacks involve manipulating individuals into revealing personal information. To this end, cybercriminals might impersonate trusted individuals or institutions to gain your trust.


In the context of property transactions, they may pose as solicitors, estate agents, or even government officials.


Staying vigilant and verifying the identity of anyone requesting sensitive information is a must to carry out secure and trustable digital transactions: when you receive suspicious messages or emails, look out for red flags that may reveal the scammers for who they really are (read more about it here).





5. Public Wi-Fi and Unsecured Networks


Public Wi-Fi networks are easy to use and convenient – sure – but also pose significant security risks. When surfing on unsecured networks, hackers can easily intercept your data, potentially capturing your personal information: these include, of course, login credentials, emails, and even relevant financial data.


When using a public Wi-Fi, always avoid accessing sensitive accounts or conducting property-related transactions. If possible, do not use unsecured network at all.


A good solution to these problems is employing a virtual private network (VPN) to secure your connection: these tools have become quite popular in the last few years, and there are many different services you can subscribe to at a convenient price.





6. Oversharing on Social Media


We all love social media.


Platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn – even Tik Tok for the most youthful – have become an essential part of our daily lives, fundamentally changing the way we interact with each other - and even see the world.


Yet, as with almost all digital services, there are also risks associated to the usage of social media. More specifically, oversharing on social media platforms can make it easier for cybercriminals to steal your identity.


Information like your location, property details, or personal milestones can be exploited to impersonate you. Be mindful of the information you share online and consider adjusting your privacy settings to limit access to your personal details: social media might be fun, but protecting your privacy is not a child’s play.





Title Fraud and Identity Theft


We have reviewed six of the most common ways your identity could get stolen online: some are relatively easy to identify, while others might represent a more challenging threat demanding constant vigilance.


One of the direst consequences of identity theft is that it can lead to title fraud. When carrying out title fraud successfully, fraudsters can manipulate property titles and attempt to transfer ownership of your properties to themselves, leaving you at risk of losing your home – or your sources of income – thus suffering extreme financial losses.


In the last few years, title fraud has risen to become one of the first concerns for homeowners and landlords – it has even been declared a matter of national security by the British government.


Regularly monitoring your land register, property deeds, and considering legal protection measures, such as prenuptial agreements, represent the basics to safeguard your properties.



Naturally, these preventive measures must also include giving great attention to the safety of your identity and sensible information online.




How to protect yourself


Cybercriminals are using increasingly sophisticated methods to steal personal information and carry out identity theft, including identity impersonation and title fraud.


As we have mentioned, protecting your identity online is not only a matter of personal security but also a safeguard against potential financial and property-related losses.


To mitigate these risks, be vigilant and follow best practices for online security. Use strong, unique passwords, enable two-factor authentication, and verify the identity of individuals or institutions requesting personal information. Regularly monitor your property records and consider legal protection measures to safeguard your property portfolio.


By staying informed and adopting security measures, you can protect your identity and your properties, ensuring a secure and worry-free online experience.





What Title Guardian Can Offer


Title Guardian can be a formidable ally in the battle against title fraud and identity impersonation, empowering you to protect your properties with confidence and ease.

Leveraging digital monitoring systems - always active to scan online and offline sources - we can ensure all your properties will always be looked after.

By registering your properties and identity with Title Guardian, you will embrace the tranquillity you need to protect your financial future.

The whole process is easy, convenient, and quick: new challenges require new safety measures and Title Guardian is ready to shield your interests against all threats hidden online.


Play in advance to secure your peace of mind — start protecting your properties and identity with Title Guardian.


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