It seems like we hear more identity theft statistics almost every week, usually thanks to data breaches and unsecure apps.
Although there are many threats and risk factors we’ve heard about before, some new facts about identity theft are disturbing. These would make anyone vow to be more vigilant when it comes to watching out for suspicious activity on accounts and credit reports.
Here are 3 facts you need to know:
- Data breach victim? Watch out. Unfortunately, lightning really can strike twice. People who’ve had financial or personal information stolen during a data breach have a much higher chance of getting hit again. That’s because breach data is often sold multiple times, depending on what it contains. If a security incident exposes your financial account numbers, for example, that makes it more valuable to hackers. As a result, you could find yourself in a seemingly endless loop of identity theft cleanup.
- Breaches will likely get worse. Some reports indicate there were more than 700 data breaches in 2015 alone. While many were on the smaller side, a few were among the largest breaches ever reported. Hundreds of millions of people had their data exposed, and it’s likely that some companies have been hit and just don’t know it yet. Of course, it’s not all doom and gloom, since security developers are also stepping up their strategies. Still, it pays to be aware of who has your records and whether those organizations report breach activity.
- Your social security number may not be secure. In the past few years, tax-related identity theft has become a major problem, to the point that tax software company Intuit had to shut down its e-filing capability in several states. Some experts note that this type of identity theft is so prevalent because social security numbers are easy to find and use. They might be obtained through a data breach or even given away by individuals who are duped by email, phone or mail scams.
Although some facts about identity theft can tempt anyone to start using only cash and never log on to the Internet again, the truth is that we live in a connected society. What’s more, your information is vulnerable through systems that are out of your control from government records and health files to school data and other everyday databases.
All this means you need to pursue other tactics for protection, such as protecting your passwords, checking your credit reports and financial accounts, being aware of what’s shared on social media and reporting any suspected fraud immediately.
Another helpful addition to your protection strategies is signing up for a monitoring service like IdentityForce, which constantly looks for suspicious activity, issues alerts if anything comes up and offers assistance with recovery if needed.