Identity Theft

The fastest growing area of risk faced by anyone today is Identity Theft. Your personal details are stolen and used to obtain benefit, often at your expense and always illegally. The simple truth is that there is so much information out there on the internet on each one of us that it is not all that difficult for hackers to collate enough personal data to open a credit facility in your name. They then clean it out and disappear, leaving the credit provider to chase you for your debt.

There are many ways criminals go about obtaining this information but most of them are possible because we get complacent, lazy or arrogant. It can’t happen to me. But it can, and does. We give over so much information very freely and yet we place our trust in the privacy laws in force. Like any law, they are only as effective as the people who obey them make them. When someone decides to break them, then they offer little real protection except perhaps in the punishment of anyone caught abusing your private information.

Of course this means they have to be caught and prosecuted. Even then they may be minors and beyond any real punishment or ability to recover your losses. They will probably be in some foreign country and beyond any efforts to apprehend them. You can be taken to the cleaners by a 14 year old hacker in Romania you may never find. The answer is to avoid becoming a victim in the first place, as it is for just about all avenues of harm.

You need to be more careful about the information you post on Facebook for instance. Especially if you use your pet or kid’s names as passwords. Birthdays are often used as passwords and these are too often thrown around by those who send you an electronic greeting card. All very warm and fuzzy but the only reason they are free is because someone gets your email data and sends you some advertising at some stage. Others might mine your data and make more insidious use of it.

I would suggest you review your online presence and consider censoring some of the details. Too much personal information is not good. You never know what someone might use against you or what could cost you that next job you apply for. Bottom line is if it doesn’t make you money, wipe it off the web. There are some very clever and very nasty individuals out there. Cyber bullying and cyber stalking are real and they produce real victims. Mere harassment can escalate to theft and other forms of harm. Spamming your address book with your email address is a mere annoyance compared to some prankster sending racially derogatory emails to your clients or colleagues under your name. It can be difficult to explain and might even leave doubts and bad feelings that will return to haunt you in the future.

But don’t take my word for this. Watch this short clip by US expert Robert Siciliano , 20 Slides In 20 Seconds Each. Pay attention because what happens in the USA happens here, sooner or later.

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