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Identity thieves typically target one’s digital identity when they want to steal your identity. But what is digital identity? Why do they want it? How do you protect it? And what is the future for banks and digital ID, given the sheer volume of attacks by identity thieves?

An Introduction to Digital Identity 

What is digital identity? Your digital identity is more than your social media profiles, though that is part of the equation. It also includes your search history, your purchase history, your interaction with apps and your phone records. It includes your credit history and accounts, as well. For example, your digital identity includes your credit card number and the login information to your online banking. It also includes the personal information like Social Security Numbers, driver’s license numbers and birthdate used to open new credit cards and take out new loans. This is why digital identity protection is intimately tied to the financial sector.

Why Do Businesses Need to Protect Consumers’ Digital Identities? 

For one, you can’t afford to have the biggest headline related to your company being a data breach that affected all of your customers. Furthermore, you can’t afford to pay the claims associated to lawsuits and canceled orders due to a massive data breach.  And your customers’ data is the lifeblood of your business. If someone can steal the customers’ credit card numbers, they could compromise your business in other ways. This could be anything from ransomware installed on your server to malware on the website that scares away would-be customers who get a warning when they follow links to your site.

How Can Businesses Protect Digital Identities? 

You can start by ensuring that your website and backend software are secure. Keeping the software up to date and hiring IT security experts to keep it safe are a good start. Don’t assume that your web hosting service is protected your website. Some of them simply host the site and won’t even notice if a hacker installs Trojans that load whenever someone loads your website.

There’s a delicate balance between identity verification and privacy. After all, many of your would-be customers don’t want to hand over a ton of information to buy a product or service, especially if it will be used to spam them. You can reduce these fears by promising not to advertise them without their consent and not sharing their information with other retailers. For example, you should send a thank you for their order as confirmation you received it and let them know when the product has been shipped. A tactful compromise between marketing and service is asking them to review the delivery of the item while giving them the option to review the product itself.

When you integrate “know your customer” protections into payment verification, educate consumers. Tell them that this prevents identity theft, so it is worth the additional five seconds to take a photo of themselves or perform a liveness check. You can verify that contact email addresses and phone numbers are correct by requiring the customer to confirm they received a notification before you can process their order. However, this approach only confirms they didn’t enter a fake email or phone number, and it won’t prevent someone who has the victim’s phone or contact information from entering contact methods they control.

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