In the movies, expert hackers crack complicated computer codes to steal important information. These types of scenarios might seem implausible in real life, but did you know that stealing personal information is actually much simpler for real-world thieves?
The sheer volume of identity theft, according to statistics released in December 2010 by the U.S. Department of Justice, suggests that as many as 11.7 million people experienced identity theft in the two years prior to being surveyed about it back in 2008.
Not surprisingly, criminals can steal your identity in many ways. Here are some of the most common:
- Malicious software that tricks you into downloading something that can pull your personal information from your computer.
- Websites that simply take your information when you visit and use it for undisclosed and unlawful purposes.
- Schemes that use bogus email accounts to solicit your personal information or account numbers.
- Websites that offer fake deals in exchange for your personal information.
- Scams where thieves pose as a business or bank official on the phone and ask for your credit card information.
- Old-fashioned pickpocketing, where thieves steal your credit cards and either use them or sell them to other criminals.
- Card readers installed by thieves at everyday locations, such as cash machines and supermarket checkout lanes, to steal your information.
- Data breaches where your information is accidentally exposed by companies you should be able to trust. (ITAC®, the Identity Theft Assistance Center, recorded 662 breaches last year.)
As you can see, criminals can steal your identity using a variety of methods. So, when you’re providing your personal information:
- Be cautious when opening email attachments and visiting unfamiliar websites.
- Be proactive by installing protective software on your computer and protecting important information with a strong password.
Even when you take all the right protections, however, you can still fall victim to identity theft. And even if you are sure of your ability to recognize a scam, identity theft protection services like those offered by Identity Guard can help you notice it more quickly, because they automatically notify you of certain changes to your personal information.
By monitoring activity on your financial accounts, a good identity protection service can inform you quickly if it detects that your identity may have been compromised. When identity theft is caught early, the amount stolen from you is minimized and the complications involved in recouping what was taken from you can be reduced.
Has your company experienced a data breach? We can help. Call us at 1-888-283-1725, or visit us online, for information and security solutions.