Identity Theft in 2017

In Tech Blog by Justin Dauley

As technology becomes more entwined in our daily lives, so too do the risks of having our identities stolen. Stolen identities happen for a variety of different reasons, including to gain access to financial and medical information. Realistic-looking phishing emails, fake social media accounts, and elaborate schemes to launder money into the United States are just a few of the methods used to target people for their identities. While some of these methods are relatively easy to detect, by no means are they all.

Identity thieves are constantly looking for new ways to steal Social Security Numbers, bank account/credit card numbers, driver’s license numbers, insurance policy numbers (medical/auto), dates of birth, state/employee identification numbers, and other forms of PII. Whether that is accessing your computer remotely using malware or sending convincing emails from intriguing or familiar addresses, the attacks are often carefully coordinated and executed down to a science. The action of logging into the Wi-Fi at the airport could be enough to create problems on your computer that will take months to fix.

In order to help protect yourself from identity theft online, here are some tips:

  • Use strong, unique passwords on all of your accounts. Strong passwords contains a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols. Unique passwords are only used on one account
  • Log out of all your social media accounts, even on your mobile devices. If you are connecting to personal accounts from a work computer, someone could approach your workspace while you are away from your desk. If you lose your smartphone or it is stolen, the person who has it next will be able to access all of your accounts if you are still logged in
  • Watch out for “phishy” messages. Beware of emails or messages that contain unexpected links, attachments, or instructions to click on the page because they may lead to viruses which can extract your personal information
  • Source: Identity Theft Resource Center – idtheftcenter.org