If there’s one thing that has become clear in this era of increasing identity theft, it’s that anyone can be targeted at any time. And, yes, even the top government official tasked with tracking and apprehending criminals can find himself on the receiving end of a sophisticated hack.
NJ.com reports that Peter Locsin, a 35-year-old man from Palisay City, Philippines, is charged with attempting to steal personal information from a number of high-profile targets. One of those individuals was former FBI Director Robert Mueller, who served under both Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama.
Locsin reportedly acquired dates of birth, addresses, Social Security Numbers and information about his victims’ work histories. He then allegedly gained access to their bank accounts, successfully making wire transfers, ordering additional cards, adding new cardholders and buying various goods with the money.
In one instance, NJ.com reported that Locsin allegedly stole $11,000 from a single bank account, after resetting the password so the owner could not access it. Reports also suggest that he attempted to steal $15,000 from Mueller in 2013.
Unprepared for identity theft
Far too many people are completely unprepared for the possibility of identity theft. For instance, in most cases the only things preventing a thief from accessing your email, social media accounts and financial information are simple passwords. A significant amount of research has shown, time and time again, that most internet users are still relying on passwords that are fairly easy to guess – such as “password,” or “123456.” One study by SplashData found that most popular passwords, even longer ones, are still based on simple patterns that significantly undermine security.
At the greatest risk are those who don’t know to prepare themselves for identity theft in the first place. We’ve written before about how children are frequently targeted by thieves because of their clean credit reports – and because few parents think to check before their children turn 18. This can lead to situations where children are unknowingly targeted for theft for years, and are left with damaged credit just when they reach the age where their credit score becomes important.
Even those who take basic precautions can still find themselves suddenly become victims. The fact is that even the best protection systems are not perfect, as the Locsin so successfully demonstrated. But we’ve seen similar problems on an even larger scale. The fact that a former FBI Director had his identity compromised is not an outlier in the government. Entire departments have also been hacked, such as the Office for Personnel Management in 2014.
Be proactive, be prepared
You may not be able to stop every attempt at identity theft that comes your way, but you can take steps to ensure that you are aware of the state of your credit and your personal information.
An identity theft protection service like Identity Guard can help by monitoring your credit files, Social Security Number and public records. Our service will alert you to certain activity that could be indicative of fraud, allowing you to take action.