Two primary threads define most identity theft that occurs in the United States: victims’ finances and their communications. Both can reveal particles of information thieves may use to steal your identity. While some instances of theft can be averted by responsible consumer behavior, others are virtually unavoidable as you go through life. This is when speedy identification and response can limit the fallout from ID theft . A combination of careful online behavior and constant vigilance can ensure that you’re as prepared as possible to handle the situation.
Your correspondence with other people via text, email, letter and more can expose aspects of your life to criminals. Whether you’re filling out an online form or celebrating the signing of a lease on social media, over-sharing can lead to disastrous results:
- A harmless Facebook post describing how excited you are to go on vacation in one week can be interpreted as a sign that you will not be home during certain dates.
- A straightforward email saying, “I need to send you a Christmas card, what’s your new address?” can create a valuable chain of data for thieves to exploit.
- Posting a resume in an online database often puts your cell phone number, address, email information and more data points into the public domain. Criminals then know where you went to college, what you do professionally, where you’ve lived in the past, and more insights to build a credible false identity.
Under the umbrella of “communications,” many vulnerabilities could be considered careless or irresponsible. Your financial activity is often a different matter.
The reality of being an adult is that things like home improvement supplies, Christmas gifts, utility bills and groceries need to be paid for. In these cases, consumers put their trust in banks, credit card companies, retailers and ATM operators to keep data safe. Victims in the Home Depot hacking, for example, probably never imagined that buying plywood or doorknobs would jeopardize their identities. Businesses now have a much bigger responsibility to protect customers’ identities and financial information—and many fail.
However, taking the security of those transactions for granted can lead to shocking and costly results down the road. Customers can be proactive about limiting their risk by paying with cash and exploring credit monitoring solutions to identify the crime right away.
A major danger of communications vulnerabilities lies in password protection for your computer, digital accounts, smartphone and other platforms and devices. Common passwords like your children’s initials, favorite football team, and others are easy to guess when there’s a record of that information online. When users fail to update their passwords or diversify them across platforms, gaining access to one means gaining access to them all.
This domino effect brings together your financial activity and communications so that bits of personal data can be assembled for theft. For valuable protection against identity theft, contact Identity Guard today.
We can explain the benefits of a credit monitoring service and give you peace of mind.