There are two certainties in life – death and taxes. Who would have ever thought that there would ever be a contender for a third certainty in life – your personal information being stolen. It’s a harsh reality that we’re all facing and the numbers alone are enough to make you want to abandon your electronics and run away to a deserted island. From 2004-2012 over 1.1 billion records were compromised and in 2013 alone there were over 91 million records that identity thieves got their hands on.
So what information are identity thieves looking for? There are certain numbers they’re trying to get their hands on, numbers that can easily convince others that they are you.
Dates and ZIPs/Postal Codes
Your birth date, dates of employment, where you lived – while these may seem harmless to share on the internet, identity thieves can take hold of your identity with these numbers through various means. Be careful with over-sharing on social media, it isn’t necessary to list every little detail about your life on your Facebook page. With social media you should stick to the mantra “less is more”.
Social Security Number/ Social Insurance Number
These numbers are the skeleton key to your financial information, only provide it when legally required and never carry your card around with you – yes, that means we have to use our memory.
Driver’s License and Passport Numbers
Once an identity thief comes into possession of these numbers, these documents can be easily counterfeited with new names, addresses and photographs.
Bank Account Numbers
Paying with a cheque is a dying art form, which is probably a good thing since your bank account number is emblazoned across the front of your cheque, ripe for the picking by identity thieves. Try to avoid using cheques as much as possible –in this case, paying with plastic is a safer option.
There are many different tricks that scammers use to take hold of PIN numbers, from card skimmers to hidden cameras; scammers use technology in their hunt for your coveted PIN numbers. When using a bank or debit machine it helps to be a little paranoid – be wary of your surroundings and cover your hands when inputting your PIN. Another good way is to avoid your PIN being stolen is to use cash and avoid third party bank machines as much as possible.
If a scammer gains access to your computer’s IP address it opens a gateway to access everything on your computer. Scammers can infect your computer with malware and steal any sensitive information you keep on your computer. Ransomware has become a popular tool for hackers of late – malware which locks you out of your files and demand you pay a fee to gain access back to your content your own computer. There are solutions to dealing with Ransomware on your computer as well as tactics to surf the internet and keep your IP address hidden from the bad guys.
It’s an unfortunate that our more digital and connected world has left so much of our information vulnerable. It always helps to stay one step ahead of fraudsters, and knowing is half the battle.
by: Big Dog Shred Bins