Data is the currency which drives the digital world forward, and yet it is also a commodity which can be exploited by malicious third parties, putting the privacy of individuals at risk.

The first step to protecting yourself from several varieties of online fraud is to understand the types of abuse which can be carried out using personal details. Here is a look at common strategies that cyber criminals harness and what you can do to avoid falling victim to them.

Unauthorized loans

Depending on how much of your personal information a fraudster can scrape together, they could be able to apply for loans with reputable financial institutions, and even take out credit cards in your name which they can then use, while saddling you with the debt.

This is where it pays to be proactive about embracing identity theft protection, and with services like Identity Guard available you can pinpoint instances of your private data being misappropriated and take action before the problems escalate. Crucially, it does not matter if you have no prior experience of cybersecurity itself, as anti-fraud services handle all of the technical aspects for you.

You can also keep in touch with your bank and look out for fraud notifications. Most providers will get in touch if they see odd activity on your account, or if a loan is taken out in your name, so do not ignore any correspondence you receive relating to this, as procrastination could give the crooks the wiggle room they need to succeed.

Online purchases

Most people have accounts on multiple e-commerce websites, so if your login details are compromised and made accessible to cybercriminals via the black market, it can be perilously simple for them to purchase items without your consent and ship them to a location of their choosing.

This is further facilitated by the fact that plenty of shopping sites save payment details, so the fraudster does not even need to have access to your debit or credit card to complete a nefarious transaction. This is one of the reasons that fraud in this area is on the rise.

There are a few ways to prevent this occurring, chief amongst which is to use a different password for every e-commerce account you have and change these regularly. That means even if your details are compromised in a breach, they will be rendered useless quickly.

Furthermore you should aim to avoid falling for phishing scams, which are commonly sent via email in an attempt to trick consumers into giving over personal information that can then be leveraged against them. Only shop with reputable sites and steer clear of deals that seem too good to be true.

Other risks and solutions

Identity theft and fraud originating from personal information being stolen online can take many forms, and you should be aware of it both online and off.

Finally, if you are an eager user of social media, remember that your public posts could contain information that conmen can use to their advantage. Guard your privacy closely, do not over-share and stay vigilant as much as possible.