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Why America Needs A Bigger Focus On Identity Theft

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Digital technology has expanded into every aspect of our lives. People wear smart tech such as watches for fitness and health as well as jewelry that can track their location. Refrigerators and kitchen appliances are connected to home networks, and virtual assistants like Alexa, Siri, and Google Voice are always listening and ready for commands and requests. What happens to all the information these devices collect?

The growing dependence on the internet and online connectivity exposes users and their sensitive data to cyberthieves and criminals. It’s a growing problem — the Federal Trade Commission reported 3.2 million fraud complaints in 2019 with identity theft being the top complaint. Although online fraud is growing, there are steps you can take to safeguard your identity and to avoid becoming another statistic.

Limit Your Online Sharing

There are times when you can’t control the use of your personal data, such as what websites harvest from your visits, or the IRS selling your tax return data, but there’s the information you can limit and control.

The amount of personal data we freely provide online can be eye-opening. Sharing photos of your partner or kids on Facebook and tagging their names may be publicly seen by strangers. Providing your date of birth so loved ones can remember to wish you a Happy Birthday can be collected by cyberthieves. Posting photos from your tropical vacation sends criminals the message that you’re away from home, making your house the perfect burglary target.

You don’t have to delete your social media accounts to control your personal data. Social networks have privacy settings that allow you to lock down your accounts so you can choose who views your information. You can also eliminate some of the more sensitive information you provided online, such as your full name, city or location, or your family member’s full names and ages.

Once you take measures to limit who has access to what you post, be more thoughtful of what you share, even with trusted friends and family. If their accounts are hacked, the hacker can view your activity by impersonating them.

Protect Your Medical Data

Medical insurance identity theft is a serious problem. Obamacare is dismantled, leaving many uninsured and wondering if there will be an alternative. Having good insurance can make you a target for identity thieves.

According to CNET, 1.4 million people are victims of medical theft. Thieves will use a victim’s identity or medical insurance information to get medical treatment. The victim is then responsible for the bills, and the cost of those bills is astounding. The victim ends up paying an average of $20,000 in fraudulent medical bills to avoid going into collections. In addition, they are in danger of having their health insurance canceled.

You can protect yourself by being more selective with what information you provide your doctor or medical clinic. If you have to provide information to your insurer or hospital, do it over the phone or in person. Sensitive information shouldn’t be emailed to protect the data from being stolen.

A thief needs more than your health insurance card details to get care in your name. They would need other data that identifies you such as your date of birth, home address, or Social Security number. Be careful who you provide your personal details to, and if you lose your health insurance card, contact your insurance provider immediately so they can issue a replacement card with a new account number.

Be Wary of Mail Fraud

There are plenty of risks to your information being stolen online, but even non-Internet activities are risky. One of the most common ways criminals can steal your identity is by taking your mail. They may be able to find bank account numbers on your personal checks and your Social Security number on statements.

Scammers may even offer to hire you for a postal job as a way of accessing information. They’ll ask you to fill out the standard employment forms such as a W-4 that contains your date of birth and Social Security number. In addition, they may ask for you to fill out a direct deposit form so they can steal your bank account information.

Avoid post office job postings that don’t come directly from the official website or the local branch. As for your mail, invest in a locking mailbox or forward your mail to a P.O. box to make it harder for thieves to steal your mail. In addition, don’t leave bills that contain checks inside your mailbox for your carrier to take. Anyone can walk by and steal the bill, getting access to the check inside.

Vigilance Is Key

Corporations are far from transparent on how they are using the data they’re collecting or what safety measures they’ve taken to protect your information from a data breach. You may not find out until it’s too late. Take matters into your own hands to safeguard your personal information and keep it from being used by thieves and criminals.

Your personal data and the data of your loved ones including names, birth dates, Social Security numbers, home addresses, and financial account information should be guarded closely. Question if disclosing the information is necessary, and what risk you can be exposed to if you do. Making it difficult to access your information will reduce your chances of identity theft

Posted by jhamilton at May 26, 2020 12:57 PM
Comments
Comment #455968

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Comment #455969

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Comment #455970

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Comment #456036

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Comment #456069

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Comment #456151

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Comment #456519

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Comment #456587

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Posted by: Uday at June 21, 2020 11:19 PM
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