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Are You a Target for Identity Theft? Know What To Do

Posted April 05, 2016 by Lynn Brown

prevent identity theft

Online habits, mobile device behavior, and debit card usage can all make a person more susceptible to identity theft. And, for some individuals the risk of identity theft is based on what they do for a living and where they live.  

Identity theft is when a person’s private identifying information (PII) is stolen or purchased and used for financial gain by criminals.

Over half of data breaches around the world were related to identity theft in 2014, according to a article.

While a business can be a victim, Federal Trade Commission stats show that an estimated nine million Americans have their identities stolen every year.

Here are top targets of identity theft thieves.

Social Media Users: Sharing personal information on sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn is risky because information thieves use these sites to collect personal information; then they use that information to apply for a loan, for example, or target individuals with phishing scams.

Plastic Users:  Users of debit or credit cards are vulnerable especially when hackers break into retailers’ electronic transaction records. The Identity Fraud report by Javelin showed 7.2 million card holders were victims in 2014.

Executive Types: In a classification system of demographic groups targeted by fraudsters, Experian identified the ‘City Prosperity’ cash-rich segment as the most at-risk group for identity theft.  Loans, savings and cards all offer thieves a quick financial win.  

Easy Access: The Experian system showed that people living in densely populated, multi-occupancy homes with shared or remote mailboxes and communal amenities were targets too. Current accounts, loans cards, and bogus insurance claims are vulnerable there.   

‘Patients’: Protected health information (PHI) has the highest value on the black market. In 2014, this sector accounted for the highest number (42.5%) of total hackings, according to a Forbes story.

Mobile Phone Users: Smartphone users are one-third more likely to fall prey than the general public, said an industry executive in the article. Mobile devices are not always properly protected but used to connect to bank accounts, company networks and other places that house confidential information.

Here are some best practices to help prevent identity theft:

  • Don’t post too much personal information on social media websites.  
  • Protect PIN numbers, and securely shred old cards and statements.  
  • Monitor bank accounts, credit cards, and credit reports regularly for unusual activity.
  • In the workplace, make information security a part of corporate culture. Have a comprehensive document management program, and control access. Enforce a Mobile Device Policy. Provide on-going employee training.
  • Stay compliant with all privacy laws in your industry. For example, know what documents must be securely destroyed in a medical workplace.
  • Equip mobile phones with the latest safeguards including password protection, encryption, and anti-virus software.
  • Have an Incident Response Plan at the ready. Research has shown it can help control losses, mitigate damages, and maintain compliance with applicable laws and regulations.
  • Safeguard against mail thieves and dumpster divers. Partner with a document destruction company that provides locked consoles for documents that are no longer needed, and secure on- or off-site shredding. Schedule hard drive destruction too.

Are insider fraudsters lurking about looking for opportunities to steal information in your office?


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