A recent poll found 92% of American adults have taken at least one big data security risk in the past year1. With identity theft on the rise, why are so many adults careless when it comes to protecting their privacy and data? It’s all too easy to let your guard down and leave your personal information open to hijacking and theft – and lose your identity in one day.
If you unwittingly visit spoofed or form-jacked websites, throw away statements without shredding, overshare on social media, or provide answers to fraudsters over the phone, identity thieves can intercept personal information and use it to create new accounts in your name or takeover existing accounts.
Common activities that can put your data at risk to lose your identity
When our lives move quickly, we sometimes risk data security in exchange for convenience or instant gratification. However, seemingly small decisions result in deep and lasting consequences if you lose your identity. Here are a few common scenarios that pose increased risk to your security:
- You receive an offer in the mail that you don’t want—so you just throw it in the trash, not realizing that there’s a lot of information about you inside.
- You’re having fun on vacation, but remember your electric bill is due, so you log into online banking using public WiFi at the nearest coffee shop.
- An online store requires you to set up an account and provide additional data prior to your purchase—but the website is “http”, or unsecured. When you set up the account, you used the same password you always do — Fido12345 after your beloved dog.
- After getting cash, you drove away and left your receipt hanging in the ATM.
- Your friends all played a question game on Facebook, so you played too. Your answers revealed personal information that could help a hacker answer your “forgot my password” questions, such as your pet’s name, your first car, etc.
These are common mistakes people make every day and could increase your chance to lose your identity. More than one in four Americans don’t shred their mail, leaving personal information intact for dumpster-diving fraudsters2. A recent Experian study revealed that 70 percent of consumers globally are “willing to share more personal data” with online organizations, especially if they believe it will provide greater security or convenience3. Two in three adults admit to reusing passwords4.
Act thoughtfully to protect your children
If identity thieves obtain your child’s Social Security number, they can slowly create new accounts and rack up bills without setting off many red flags. Talk to your child about safe online behavior and protect them from online bullying. Minors who are bullied online are more than nine times more likely to be victims of fraud5. Experts believe this may be because they are more willing to share information online in search of acceptance.
As you think about your day-to-day habits, be ever-vigilant. Be careful about who you’re sharing personal information with and do not trade data security for time savings or extra convenience. Dan Wade, Fraud Analyst at Diamond Credit Union adds, “Use caution with any phone call or email received requesting logon, PIN or password or any personal information. Caller ID and email addresses are often spoofed in these scams. When in doubt call the company back using a phone number from a statement or their website. Google search results can return results very similar to the actual company website, so examine the links closely.”