You’ve probably got a lot going on in your life — work, school, kids, family obligations, bills (and maybe even a little time for yourself, if you’re lucky). That’s what identity thieves are counting on, though. They are the dark shadows that are always lurking behind you, hoping you’ll be too busy to give much thought to who you are sharing your personal information with, or whether or not the Wi-Fi network you’re connecting to is secure. Identity thieves are always there, and they can’t wait for you to make a mistake.
Because the individuals who steal our personal information have no problem patiently waiting to cash in on our carelessness, most victims of identity theft — 68%, in fact — don’t even know how the thief obtained their information in the first place. An even greater number, 92%, know nothing about the individual or group that stole from them.
What could you be doing to expose your sensitive data to criminals? We’ve put together a helpful infographic for you, which can be found below. Some of the highlights include:
- Oversharing on social media
- Getting married or divorced
- Responding to fraudulent emails, texts, or pop-up messages
When people think of identity theft, they often only connect it to credit card fraud — and assume those companies will take care of things for them if someone gets ahold of their card number and tries make any purchases. While credit card fraud is one of the most common types of identity theft, thieves may use your information for so much more. They can easily cause hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of damage — and leave you to clean up the mess. With your personal information in-hand, criminals can:
- File fraudulent tax returns in your name
- Open new credit card or bank accounts (and change your billing address so you never know)
- Take out huge car loans or mortgages and never pay them off
Some victims of identity theft are haunted by it for many years, as they struggle to clear their names and repair their credit scores.
Thankfully, there are also many ways you can protect yourself from identity theft. Our infographic shares those tips using easy-to-understand graphics and bits of valuable information. Some advice includes:
- Don’t let mail sit in an unlocked mailbox for long periods of time
- Avoid creating simple passwords (and change them often)
- Only give out your Social Security number when you absolutely have to
Ready to learn more about identity theft, what you’re doing to expose yourself, and how to stay protected? Scroll through the infographic below or view the full sized version.