Ah the internet. What did we do before it?! Well, we probably spent more time talking face to face & less time browsing Facebook to see what your old friend from elementary school named their last child, or what happened to their dog when they fed them chocolate. No doubt the internet helps make our life easier in some ways, yet in other ways there are consequences to all this easy information right at “your fingertips,” & the potential for this information to end up in the wrong hands!
Unfortunately, this is a double-edged sword, because as beneficial as it may be to interact with people from around the world, not all of them have genuine intentions. Many on the internet take advantage of this shift to living and working online to steal from others. This has become especially problematic for individuals as well as major businesses.
In just the last year, major U.S. companies including Neiman Marcus, Target and Las Vegas Sands, Sony Entertainment, JP Morgan, Home Depot (and the list goes on) have reported instances of cyber attacks that resulted in the theft of thousands, if not millions, of consumer’s personal information. The reaching effects on consumers & businesses is endless
These data breaches have allowed criminals to get their hands on millions of people’s names, email addresses, phone numbers, Social Security numbers and financial information.
If you’re worried about your personal and financial information falling into the wrong hands, here are a few steps you can take to protect your identity:
“Through the years, I have been amazed at the things you can find in the trash. There is big business for identity thieves in personal garbage. More importantly, once you put your garbage out on the street for trash pickup, it usually becomes open to the public. This means that if I am so inclined, I can take that garbage and bring it home, which is exactly what I did. Each week I would snap on my rubber gloves and go through every item of trash: grocery store shopping lists, sticky notes with phone numbers, a private invitation for a little girl to a friend’s birthday party, and much more. As I continued to go through the managers’ trash, I was able to compile a list of their service providers: water bill, phone bill, gas and electric, cable, and so on. I could use this information not only to gain access into their lives but, if I wanted, to take over their lives.”
If you ever suspect that someone else has unlawfully gotten their hands on your personal or financial information, enlist the help of credit monitoring services, which monitor for certain activity and may help you to weed out certain potentially fraudulent behavior and would-be identity theft from happening in your name. (Parts of this adapted from IdentityGuard.com)