Identity Theft Protection: A Latte…and a Little Data, To Go

We’ve all been using the Web long enough to know the basics of identity theft protection—from creating strong passwords to deleting suspicious emails. But often we set those rules aside for the convenience of having the Internet at our fingertips.

Meeting friends at the coffee shop, you may also check email via their unsecured server. Waiting for your daughter at ballet, you might also catch up on banking through their public Wi-Fi. However, unsecured networks are especially tempting to an identity thief looking for access to your personal information. As you walk away with your coffee and balanced checkbook, they can walk away with your personally identifiable information.

Sharing personal information everywhere

Your sensitive personal information may be in places you’re unaware of. Whether you visited the doctor with a sick child or your accountant during tax season, your personal data could be exposed from these unsuspecting yet trustworthy companies. For example, if the data entry clerk at your doctor’s office is downloading and listening to music while inputting information, the clerk could be exposing your personal information via a Peer to Peer (P2P) file sharing network, leaving you vulnerable to identity theft.

Cybercrime is increasing

Perhaps you’ve heard about a friend of a friend who had his or her personal information stolen by making a routine purchase at the local grocery store. While you may shrug this off as an unlikely occurrence, it’s actually more common than you think. In fact, 13.1 million consumers suffered identity theft in 2013. Identity thieves have developed ways to use software remotely to extract credit and debit card data from inside a store. This means your trip to pick up milk and bread at the grocery store could be a dangerous one.

In the end, we all love the convenience that our smart devices and the Web offer. However, we need to be proactive, and ensure that our personal information is safe when using these devices.

Identity Theft Data from Sehgal, Vikram and Jeff Wray. (2013, February 27). Online Retail Forecast, 2012 to 2017. Forrester Research.