Being a victim of identity theft during the COVID-19 pandemic
Have you ever been a victim of fraud, scam or identity theft? If you were, know that ‘You Are Not Alone!’. There is nothing to be ashamed of, it happens to all of us at some point in our life. If you think this cannot happen to you, think twice because we are all at high risk, especially now!
According to Ofcom “Adults spending record 4 hours a day online on average, as coronavirus changes communications.”
We were forced to go online as the result of the COVID-19 pandemic. We give away our details when we are shopping, applying for jobs or dealing with important matters online.
In the first week of 2021, I was a victim of identity theft and online fraud. I applied for a job advert, thinking that it was a legitimate website. I received email communications from the ‘employer’ in my personal mailbox. They offered me a job. The company was called LivDifferently Ltd.
They asked me to apply for a DBS check online through the ukdbs.net website and pay for it. I should have suspected something by then but no, I was blindly running towards my fate.
Note, no employer will ask you to do a DBS check, they can request it if they need it. Second note, if you need a DBS, only use the official UK government website.
I was blinded by the fact that I might get a job and I can start to work soon. Can you relate to that? At that time, I did not think anything out of it. I was very hopeful that after four months of unemployment my luck would turn. I trusted in GDPR. I trusted in Indeed. I trusted in online applications. I thought that this could never happen to me.
I provided my details, even a picture of my passport. They have already had my CV, Cover Letter, NI number. They learnt everything about me. Where I live, where I studied, where I worked, what my qualifications are and who I am.
In the next few days as I was scrolling through the articles on Google, I found out that this company is a fraud. They lured in hundreds of people before me and they stole everyone’s identity on top of their money. Yes, they made me pay £19 for the DBS and I walked into their trap willingly.
When I realised what happened to me, I immediately reported the crime to Action Fraud, Indeed, my bank, HMRC, ordered a new passport and I changed my passwords. It took me about two months to deal with everything but I was able to recover the money, get a new passport and return to my normal life.
My recommendation to everyone is to use only official websites and check if the company is registered at Companies House before you click on apply. It takes longer to complete online application forms but it is better to stay safe.
For further information on how to stay safe online, please check my interview with Alex Oppong, Internet Security Consultant about the increased cybercrime during COVID-19. It still scares me to know that this can come back into my life anytime in the future and most likely when I least expect it but I did everything to make the authorities aware of the crime and prevent further damage in my own life. I know identity theft can be very frightening but know that ‘You Are Not Alone!’.
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