Target, Yahoo, Verizon – this is just a short list of companies that recently had client information compromised as a result of a data breach. Up 40% from 2015 to 2016, reported data breaches look to be on the rise. Of those victimized, one out of three will also become a victim of identity theft, according to a Javelin Strategy & Research report.
Using stolen credentials, identity thieves attempt to take over the identity of their victims to conduct a wide range of crimes:
- Falsify applications for loans and credit cards
- Make fraudulent withdrawals from bank accounts
- Falsely file tax returns with the Internal Revenue Service or state government
- Obtain other goods or privileges which the thief might be denied if he were to use his real name
- Use your personal information, such as your Medicare ID or health insurance member number to get medical services, or to issue fraudulent billing to your health insurance provider
- Use your name, photos, and other personal information to create a phony account on a social media platform
What Can You Do?
Most are not aware they have fallen victim until information has already been compromised. These simple tips can significantly reduce your chance of becoming a victim of a data breach:
- Use a password manager (e.g. LastPass) to manage unique and complex passwords for all online accounts
- Enable two-factor authentication on your email, financial accounts, social media, and other sensitive accounts
- Set up email or text message alerts to notify you credit card and bank withdrawal activity
- Avoid the use of debit cards
- Install and update anti-malware software on your computers and mobile devices