Technology has advanced rapidly in the past few years, and the threat of identity theft is increasing daily. According to a survey from the Identity Theft Resource Center, more than 43 million Americans have been affected by identity theft in 2019. In this article, we will discuss the alarming ways in which individuals’ personal information is exposed, how to protect yourself from identity theft, and the importance of being proactive about your identity security.
What’s Causing Identity Theft?
Identity theft is the crime of using another person’s identity and personal information to obtain goods or cash. It has become increasingly common due to the rise of online data breaches and stolen credit card information. Criminals can also obtain information through phone scams, phishing emails, and stolen physical documents with personal information.
Data breaches occur when criminals hack into computer systems to access personal information stored in databases. These breaches can affect millions of people at once and expose information such as Social Security numbers, credit card numbers, and passwords. According to a report from Brian Krebs, the number of data breaches in the US has increased significantly in the past few years, with almost 700 million records exposed in 2018 alone.
Phone scams are another common way criminals get personal information. The scammer will call and use intimidating tactics to get victims to provide sensitive information such as Social Security numbers, bank account numbers, and credit card information. By pretending to be from a legitimate organization, the scammer will attempt to get the victim to answer questions or transfer money.
Phishing is a form of online fraud, in which criminals attempt to trick victims into giving away their sensitive personal information. The scammer will send an email that looks like it is from a legitimate source, such as a bank or government agency. These emails will try to get the victim to click on a malicious link, or provide the personal information the scammer is after.
Protecting Yourself From Identity Theft
Given the risks of identity theft, it’s important to take steps to protect yourself. Here are some tips for protecting yourself from identity theft:
1. Protect Your Data: Ensure that your data is secure by using strong passwords, encrypting your device, and regularly updating your software.
2. Monitor Your Accounts: Check your credit card and bank statements regularly to ensure that all transactions are legitimate.
3. Be Vigilant With Your Data: Be cautious when disclosing your personal information online, and never give out your Social Security number or other sensitive data over the phone or online.
4. Use a Credit Monitoring Service: Consider using a credit monitoring service to alert you of any suspicious activity on your accounts.
The Importance of Being Proactive
Being proactive about protecting your identity is key to guarding against identity theft. It’s important to be aware of the warning signs of identity theft, such as identity fraud alerts on your credit report, unusual activity on your accounts, or receiving bills for goods and services you didn’t purchase. Taking steps to protect your data, such as using a credit monitoring service and regularly checking your accounts for suspicious activity, can help ensure that you don’t become a victim of identity theft.
Identity theft is a growing problem and can have serious repercussions for those affected. The best way to protect yourself is to be proactive about your identity security. Use strong passwords, avoid giving out your personal information online, and regularly monitor your accounts for suspicious activity. Share this article on social media to spread the word and help protect those around you from identity theft!