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Identity Theft Prevention Can be an Uphill Battle

Identity Theft – More Hacking than a Machete

I’m sure I follow technology news more closely than most of you, but I bet everyone has noticed the steady increase in reports of hacking and identity theft. What strikes me isn’t just the frequency, but the size of the targets. It’s incredible that credit card processors and even the Utah Department of Health have been compromised and sensitive information stolen.

In earlier posts I’ve written about ways you can protect yourself online. The problem with these sorts of compromises is that there’s nothing you or I can do to prevent them. We all have social security numbers and, if we have an account at a bank, have financial resources on internet-connected computers. What, then, are we to do? While we can’t stop it, there are two things that can help.

Identity Theft Burglar

First, make sure you avoid the obvious scams that might come from someone having your bank information or social security number. If someone calls you claiming to be from your bank or credit card company, feel free to ask them questions. If you’re suspicious of their claim, hang up and call the bank yourself. If the reason you were called is legitimate, you’ll be routed to someone who can handle it. At least in this case, don’t place convenience above security.

Second, watch your bank and credit card statements closely. In these days of auto-reconciling checkbook software and electronic payments it has become far too easy to avoid balancing your checkbook. I’ve had my credit card number stolen before. Several times, in fact. Most of the time, they’re not trying to buy large-ticket items. They’re using it for smaller purchases that I could have easily overlooked. The last time it was for iTunes gift cards. Something I have purchased in the past. I could have easily skimmed over this purchase. Maybe I would have been out $50, but maybe the thief would have gotten bolder and purchased something larger.

Though there’s nothing you and I can do to prevent these thefts, we can certainly mitigate the damage. For more information, you might want to read through the Social Security Administration’s information on identity theft.


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