What is Cyber Identity Theft? How Google Alert can Help ?



In my article “Is your internet banking safe?” we have navigated through two terms cyber identity and identity stealing / theft. In this article we elaborate these terms and try to find out their meaning. Also, Curious Nerve will tell you a method to watch your identity in cyber world and get alert of any misuse or suspicious activity of your Identity.

What is Cyber Identity?

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We use to create our internet profile mainly for two things 1. Social Networking and 2. Financial Transactions. In both cases you provide some personal information like Name, email, contact no, address, marital status, family details, PAN no, account no, PIN, credit card number etc. All these information come together and form your Cyber Identity, which is used by other people and institutions to recognize you.

What is Identity Theft?

Identity theft occurs when someone uses another’s personally identifying information, like their name, PAN number, driving license number, account number or credit card number, without their permission, to commit fraud or other crimes. And please note that it’s not limited to Cyber world only, in physical paper world also identity theft occurs in abundant. But in case of internet / cyber world it becomes comparatively easy because of the careless and irresponsible approach of the user.

In Cyber identity theft victim’s significant information is stolen online. Today we prefer online shopping and online friendship through social networking tools because of the convenience and huge number of available options but, whenever you fill up the forms or make online payment there is a possibility theft of your critical information like date of birth, account number, pin, address, and more through malwares, spy-bots, phishing, pharming, keylogging, spywares etc.These malicious programs designed to collect information from your computer and send it to another computer, most identity thieves don’t even need to be in front of their computer to steal your identity.

We should be most careful and vigilant while doing any internet transaction, especially financial transaction. Please refer to “Is your internet banking safe?” for more information on precautions.

How Google Alerts can help?

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I have seen that some organizations / companies are effectively using Google Alert to track their names on internet, this helps them to watch those contents where their name has been used and taking prompt action if it is a complaint or negative remark, Google Alerts can also be used as your personal virtual watchdog that will constantly look for any malicious attempt at identity theft. It’s difficult to track such activity manually on internet but Google Alert lets you to set an automatic tracking mechanism and forget it.  The moment a thief posts your data online for others to use, you will be notified through an e-mail.   Sounds interesting? Let’s see how it can be implemented…

Minimum Requirement:

  1. Internet access
  2. Google Alerts created / registered. (if you don’t have, then create a Google Alert by clicking here)

Step 1 : Go to Google Alert home page and create an alert. If you want to learn basics of creating a Google Alerts then please read “How to Create Google Alerts?

Step 2: To watch yourself on internet all you need is to set up Google Alerts for your key personal data. Here are some of the alerts for you that might help you in tracking your identity through Google:

  • Your name
  • Your contact number
  • Your address (home and work)
  • Your date of birth
  • Your vehicle registration number
  • Your driving license number
  • Your email address

Step 3 :  While creating the Google Alert you also provide  your email id where such alerts are sent by Google. Read the alerts that Google will email you when the information you listed becomes published anywhere on the web that Google crawls. Some of the alerts may be normal but if any of these alerts you think indicates a potential identity theft, take immediate action.  Check for following things in the alerts:

  • Scrutinize the email and look of any unusual links or sites.
  • Analyse the patterns of alerts, like type of sites you are being alerted. You should not ignore if  these alerts are related to Financial Institutions, Legal firms or security organizations etc.
  • If the alerts related to your personal information suddenly swells in number, then it may be a matter of concern.   Please take immediate action for getting the reason for such increase.

Step 4 :  If identity theft appears to have occurred and you don’t know how to respond then please take help of  legal representative or the local police. Most of the countries are having laws that dealt with different aspects of identity or fraud issues.

 In India it is defined Under the Information Technology Act 2000 Chapter IX Sec 66C – “PUNISHMENT FOR IDENTITY THEFT Whoever, fraudulently or dishonestly makes use of the electronic signature, password or any other unique identification feature of any other person, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years and shall also be liable to fine with may extend to rupees one lakh.”  < source : http://en.wikipedia.org >

You may need to respond quickly if it appears that fraud may be happening using your personal details.

Please Remember :

  • Your alerts are delivered at your mail Id, so please avoid creating alerts for following items because inadvertently it can be exposed to some other person and your alert may become a reason of some misuse.

                Personal Identification number
                User Ids & passwords
                Credit card numbers
                Mother’s maiden name
                Bank account numbers

  • It is important to refine searches to help Google Alerts be the most efficient in returning the personal information. For example, you can enclose your name or address in quotation marks.
  • Also note that the search criteria you have provided, sometime didn’t delivers the result which you are expecting. In this scenario, you may need to find different ways (like some keywords) of inputting your personal details to get the best results.

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6 Responses to What is Cyber Identity Theft? How Google Alert can Help ?

  1. Saurabh Sinha says:

    Very Informative, useful article. This site has some interesting discussions.

  2. Shekhar salva says:

    afeter reading this article I immediately created an alert for me. This was really helpful. Thaks Alok

  3. Ajay jauhari says:

    anyway thanks for sharing few very informative articles on cyber safety. Are you cyper expert? is tha really helpful? Interesting but let me check.

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