Kaspersky, a cybersecurity and digital privacy company, has warned digital wallet users that they can fall prey to scammers should they decide to sell their personal information. Users take the risk of identity theft — or even worse — if personal details fall into cybercriminals’ hands.
Citing local reports, Kaspersky said there have been reports of buying and selling of verified digital wallet accounts with those with registered SIM priced at P350 each and can go to as high as P600-P800.
“With enough information from you, scammers can already set up other financial accounts using your name and use your identity to benefit them,” said Yeo Siang Tiong, general manager for Southeast Asia at Kaspersky. “Possible scenarios would be getting harassed by a collection agent for a debt you’ve never owed. It could also mean losing out on job or education opportunities just because your name appeared with an unpleasant digital profile when searched.”
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Under Philippine laws, according to Kaspersky, those involved in the crime can expect jail time and penalties from P100,000 to P500,000.
Digital wallets now offer services such as mobile banking that offer higher interest rates than traditional banks. For consumers to avail themselves of this service, the e-wallet company needs to verify the identity of the user, which means they need to supply pertinent information as well as government-issued IDs.
“By selling your verified digital wallet, you are essentially handing out your data to cybercriminals and helping them carry out their evil activities,” Kaspersky said.
With your confidential information in their hands, data thieves can:
- Make purchases on your behalf
- Use your personal details in online gaming. Cybercriminals use stolen identities for doxing (publishing your home address and phone number online for profit, fun, or humiliation) and swatting (reporting a fake emergency to law enforcement agencies to come to your place to intimidate you)
- Use your personal information in online gambling. Fraudsters create networks of thousands of synthetic accounts, normally using stolen personal data and credit card information to accumulate bonus points and redeem their “winnings.”
- Add themselves or an alias they can control as an authorized user so it is easier to use your credit.
- Use and abuse your Social Security number. Scammers may be able to take out loans and claim benefits under your name.
- You may be banned from using the services of your preferred digital wallet company if your name appears to have availed of its loan services and that you cannot pay.
- Sell your information to others who will use it for malicious purposes. Buying and selling of stolen personal information is big business on the dark web, the non-visible Web that can be accessed only by a specialized browser where cybercriminals provide illegal services to one another.
Kaspersky said it is difficult to undo the sale of your digital wallet. But experts suggest replacing email addresses, and passwords in all of social media and financial accounts. If consumers believe they have been victimized by identity fraud, they can lodge a complaint through the Cybercrime Investigation and Coordinating Center (CICC) here.
How else to protect yourself from identity theft?
- Keep data on a “need-to-know” basis. If someone is asking for your personal information, ask why they need it and how they will use it.
- Bank safely. Make sure that you log into financial websites using a secure connection all the time.
- Know who you’re dealing with. If you are requested for your personal or financial information, find out who they are, what company they represent, and the reason for the request. Contact the company to confirm before disclosing any of your personal data.
- Secure the data in your device. Use security software to maximize your online safety, whether you transact using your personal details on your laptop, PC, or mobile phone.
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