What do hackers do with stolen data? They sell it on the black market, also called the Dark Web. Anyone in possession of your credit card information can max out the spending limit before you even know the card is compromised. A Social Security number and some of your personal information can be used to create a false income tax scenario, where the criminal collects the benefits and you are responsible for the damages. The Hunt for Your Data

Criminals can also use your personal and/or financial information to:

  • change your passwords, phone number, or other account details.
  • obtain a mobile phone account in your name.
  • obtain numerous fake credit cards in your name.
  • apply for loans or drain your bank accounts.
  • set up fake accounts with hundreds of online merchants and payment processors.
  • damage or destroy your credit rating, your business, and your reputation.

The keys to a fraudster unlocking your identity can be found in any number of locations, both physical and digital. The data that needs protecting includes your:

  • name
  • Social Security number (U.S.) or Social Insurance number (Canada)
  • Medicare or other government healthcare numbers
  • address
  • phone numbers
  • email address
  • driver’s licence
  • birth certificate
  • passport
  • credit cards and other bank account information
  • passwords
  • fingerprints

The FBI offers the following tips for avoiding Identity theft:

  • Never throw away ATM receipts, credit statements, credit cards, or bank statements in a usable form.
  • Never give your credit card number over the telephone unless you make the call.
  • Reconcile your bank account monthly, and notify your bank of discrepancies immediately.
  • Keep a list of telephone numbers to call to report the loss or theft of your wallet, credit cards, etc.
  • Report unauthorized financial transactions to your bank, credit card company, and the police as soon as you detect them.
  • Review a copy of your credit report at least once each year. Notify the credit bureau in writing of any questionable entries and follow through until they are explained or removed.
  • If your identity has been assumed, ask the credit bureau to print a statement to that effect in your credit report.
  • If you know of anyone who receives mail from credit card companies or banks in the names of others, report it to local or federal law enforcement authorities.

For more information on identity theft and online security, visit DNotesEDU.