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Sending your ID over messenger? You could be at risk of identity theft

Have you ever sent your card details through a messenger application? Or a copy of your driving licence or your passport over email? How about your passwords or login details? We’ve been looking at how storing your personal details in an application could lead to identity theft.

From letterboxes to inboxes: how the way we sent information changed

Only five or ten years ago, sensitive information was often sent via post. Nowadays it's much easier to log onto your email, scan a document that your employer, your solicitor or your bank needs a copy of, and send it across instantly. With instant messaging applications like WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger, it’s even easier; you can send across your card details or a copy of your ID by just taking a photo. 

This has only become more commonplace since the pandemic; you’re now able to apply for a mortgage, start an injury claim, or get a business loan without even leaving your house. Whilst the internet has made a lot of these processes faster, it’s also changed the way we think about sending information securely. We’re no longer paying for recorded delivery, we’re using applications instead.

Is the app I’m using secure?

So how safe is your information when it’s sent over an application? For the most part, it depends on the application that you’re using; if the application has end-to-end encryption, for example, then only you and the recipient can read what has been sent. So what’s the problem with sending your ID across, if only the recipient can access it?

The issue is that breaking into your WhatsApp, Messenger and Email applications has become more and more lucrative for hackers. We’ve looked at phishing scams that target Facebook accounts, Sim-swap fraud, the WhatsApp ‘friend in need’ scam and even OneDrive attachment phishing emails. These scams all have one thing in common; the perpetrators are trying to get your account details.

A hacker knows that access to your messaging app or email account can give them access to much more than just your bank account; it can give them access to everything that you have sent using that account. That includes personal contact details like your address and phone number, any and all forms of identification, and documents that prove your identity such as utility bills and payslips. Your sent box or chat log could contain everything a hacker needed to steal your identity.

How to keep your identity safe

If you do send personal information over email or instant messenger, there are a few things you can do to keep your data secure. 

  1. Turn on two-factor authentication

    The most effective way to stop hackers in their tracks, particularly when it comes to scams and cyber attacks that are after your account details, is to turn on two-factor authentication (2FA) for every application that you use. When you’re using 2FA, you’ll be required to input a code from your smartphone whenever you attempt to log in. Unless the phisher is holding your phone, they won’t be able to access accounts where 2FA is enabled.
     
  2. Clear your chat logs and sent box

    Another way to keep your identity safe is to clear your chat logs and sent box of any personally identifiable information after it has been sent, particularly forms of ID like your driving licence and your passport. Deleting any sensitive documents or information after it has been sent means that if a hacker does gain access to your account somehow, identity theft is far less likely.
     
  3. Educate yourself (and your staff) on cyber security

    When you’re running a business, people are your biggest security flaw. As such, it’s incredibly important that you and your employees are educated, and know the telltale signs of phishing scams, cyber attacks and online fraud. U-Secure is an application which provides cyber security training to your staff. The app sends out 10-minute courses to employees automatically, quizzes them afterwards, and the results are recorded for your organisation so you can see who needs further training. 

    As a U-secure partner, Transcendit offers a 30-minute demo of the software, and can set it up for your business.

Give us call us on 0191 482 0444 to try out U-Secure


The Transcendit Way

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You have got a great team there, nothing was a problem and they were extremely patient with me in explaining various things and sorting this out for me. Great Service Philip Bousfield, Advanced Financial Planning

Based on 11207 reviews our customers rate us 9.8/10. Reviews and ratings by Customersure. 17-January-2024

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