Dangerous Reality of Identity Theft in Modern World
Have you ever shopped at Target stores? Bad news for you: you might be a victim of an identity theft pretty soon. Have you heard that in 2013 hackers successfully stolen millions of credentials of Target buyers which included names, birthdays, card numbers, addresses - everything a malicious mind needs to get your identity faked. Here is a quote from an official Target website:
In mid-December 2013, we learned criminals forced their way into our system, gaining access to guest credit and debit card information. As the investigation continued, it was determined that certain guest information was also taken. The information included names, mailing addresses, email addresses or phone numbers.
Now Target officials are not completely sure if the customers Social Security Numbers haven’t been stolen too. Their quote is pretty vague and unsure sounding:
There is no indication that Social Security numbers have been taken.
Do you understand what this answer implies? That they simply can’t say “No, SSNs are safe”. They simple have chosen a “less shocking truth” like “You know, probably not stolen”. And for me this clearly sounds like, sadly, but the hackers got your security numbers.
Target case was not unique, but maybe pretty much the biggest out of the recent ones. From time to time the media is being shocked by a new loud hack with millions of customers private info leaked. Just to list a few:
In 2011 Sony PlayStation breach involves 70 million subscribers. Six days after a security breach of its PlayStation Network, Sony said Tuesday that the incursion was much worse than expected and hackers had obtained personal information on 70 million subscribers.
Just imagine: SEVENTY MILLION SUBSCRIBERS. I’ll repeat 70 million! It’s a way more than a quarter of total American adult population! Yes, playstation network is mainly for kids, but to authorize a kid there there is always an adult involved, with his billing address used, his credit card and sometimes other sensitive information. And now all this is in bad hands too!
And here is another, pretty recent news header: Hackers leak Passwords Of Amazon, Walmart and Brazzers Users.
I am not sure how many password were leaked at this time but the names are big - the huge retailers and the adult entertainment site - and I bet a lot of people get affected with those.
And do you remember the recent celebrity rant when hundreds or even thousands of private photos of such stars as Jennifer Lawrence, Kate Upton and many others surfaced? This was connected with a breach into Apple’s iCloud system which are connected to Apple i-Devices like iPhone, iPad or iPods. Only photos were published at this time but the information users store in the iCloud is much more diverse than just the photos. iCloud can store your passwords, your credit cards, your personal notes, addresses, contacts and of course photos. A pretty nice set of things for the identity faking ops.
So it is pretty much safe to assure that if you ever have paid for something online, if you live in one of the First world countries such as USA or Europe or Australia, or if you use iPhone, or even if you never paid online but went shopping to large reseller networks as Target or Walmart - then there is a huge huge percent that you are at risk too!
Tragically, these are the negative perks of living in modern “informational technology” society - where everything is connected and stored but often the protection is not as strong as needs to be.
What does it mean for you to be at risk? Well, the worst case scenario is really dark and gloomy: having got all those information of yours, including SSNs, Credit Card numbers, billing addresses photos, and maybe even fingerprints (remember the new iPhones are equipped with fingerprint sensors!) hackers or the people who buy the data from them can do a lot of bad things. For example: getting a fake loan on your name, registering or buying a vehicle on your name and SSN, buying a property on your name for a bank loan. Selling your data to illegal migrants for them making fake IDs for then going to get a job or a loan too. Who knows, maybe some Diego is already having his ID with your name or SSN?
Recent news on CNN reported on a Mexican man sentenced to 51 months for identity theft of the American citizens, and that’s just one of hundreds or thousands of cases that go unnoticed!
Basically if there is a problem there should be some solutions and there are already some companies appeared trying to help people whose data was leaked to react fast on any attempt of using their credentials by third parties. What exactly they do? For a small fee, or often first month free - they offer a full monitor of “you” appearing anywhere. Let me explain: if someones somewhere has used your SSN, your real name, your address, your phone number etc. to register for something, to apply for an ID, to apply for a loan, to apply for a job etc etc. they would alert you immediately so that you could authorize and check was this request was made by you or by the hacker. Also you can search already submitted requests that come on your name. I bet you would be surprised to find the loan applications or something like this you never made!
Who are the most trusted sites in this industry? I would list a few, for example:
LifeLock - it’s more than just a monitoring service. They help protect your personal information using a combination of data surveillance techniques and outstanding member service, 24 hours a day. Pity there is not free trial or anything like this.
However this product I trust most:
Identity Guard - Keeping your personal information safe from identity theft. You can get their service for free for 30 Days now, it’s sort of a good deal to try right away if you want to check if your name was already compromised and now.
And again you should understand that anyone can be a target here and the earlier you take an action the more secure you are.
Personally I would recommend start using something like Identity Guard right away - they have free trial - you don’t loose anything and can instantly monitor your information and learn if you are in danger or not.
Hope this piece of information helps you in your journey in our modern informational world!