Why Identity Theft Protection is a Necessity in the Modern Digital World
In the past, identity theft protection was as simple as not posting your personal information, like your phone number, online for everyone to see. Now, identity theft protection is more complicated. Without a strong password or encrypted software that hides your data, you could be a victim of a cyberattack. Unfortunately, most Internet users don’t take ID theft seriously.
Identity Theft Can Happen to Anyone
Identity theft is one of the many crimes that aren’t taken seriously by most Internet users. While hacktivists (people who hack for a moral purpose) do exist, most hackers want to steal your information for monetary gain. Like any criminal, hackers like easy targets. If you don’t take a threat seriously, you’re more likely to be a target because you’re unprepared to face an attack.
One way to protect yourself from a potential cyberattack is by using Identity Guard’s ID theft protection while browsing the Internet. However, ID theft can also happen offline.
How Does Identity Theft Happen?
Online ID Theft
Financial institutions, online retailers, and small or medium businesses are typical victims. If you have a bank account, shop online, or support local businesses, your data could be stolen. However, individuals are easier to target because the average American uses the same password for every account, will open emails from unfamiliar sources, or use public WiFi.
Your credentials are easily accessible online via social media or through unprotected websites. While harvesting your data, they may also find information on your friends, family, and colleagues, but if they’re targeting you directly, they’re likely stealing your identity to harm you.
Offline ID Theft
Even if you live a life entirely offline, other institutions won’t, and even if you live out in the woods and grow your own food, you could still become a victim. While it’s easier to steal data online, identity thieves still committed this crime way before the Internet ever existed.
ID thefts may call you to get you to divulge personal data to them, or a dumpster diver may swipe your utility bill and steal your information. Pickpockets and shoulder lookers may take your details, or a burglar could break into your car or home and steal sensitive documents.
How Identity Theft Could Ruin Your Life
Whether they want to ruin your reputation through online humiliation, spend your own hard-earned money, or open up credit cards in your name, they can do that with a simple email address. By opening emails from an unidentifiable source and downloading an attachment, you could have ransomware, malware, or some other virus that could put stress on your finances.
The following list includes the potential long-term effects of identity theft.
- Damaged Credit: Your credit history could be ruined beyond repair, which would make it difficult for you to get a loan or mortgage. Rental companies are less likely to trust you.
- Tax Debt: Fraudsters could file a return in your name and provide false return information to get a refund. Or, they could work under your SSN and not pay taxes.
- Criminal Record: If a hacker uses your identity to commit crimes in your name, you could receive a fine or get arrested. A criminal record makes it harder to find jobs.
- Loss of Money and Time: Recovering your identity takes time, and the money you lose could be significant. On top of that, you’ll need to spend money to change your ID.
It can take years to recover from identity fraud, and unless you change your personal information, the initial attack could be the first of many.
You can protect yourself from identity theft by only browsing secure websites, managing your account passwords, avoiding mysterious email attachments, and limiting your exposure on social networks. Being proactive can ensure your data is protected online or offline.