5 Steps to Protect Your Digital Identity in The Age of Breaches
The record number of data breaches in 2017 (1,579 publicly-reported breaches to be exact) and the sensitivity of the data stolen (especially social security numbers and passwords) have led many to wonder how to protect themselves. Since I work in the identity protection industry, my friends and family have asked what recommendations they should follow to secure their personal data. In this write-up, Iâll share some basic information, options, and suggestions for what to do in the wake of a data breach.
Credit Card vs. Identity Theft, Understanding the Difference
First, letâs distinguish credit card theft from identity theft. My credit card number is stolen reliably about once per year. Itâs a nuisance, but that is all. The bank eats all losses related to the theft and I simply get a new credit card number. But if a thief gets a hold of my SNAPD info (SSN, Name, Address, Phone number, and Date of birth) and applies for a credit card in my nameâthat is identity theft, and it is more difficult to remedy. I may not even realize it has happened until I try to buy a car and my loan application is denied because my credit has been ruined (after, for instance, a thief opened a credit card account with my information, racked up charges, and never paid the bill). I canât easily change my SNAPD info like I can a credit card number, so I must begin a long, painful process of trying to restore my good credit. Because my information is spread out across so many companies, itâs on me as the victim to clean it up everywhere, and I may not be able to buy anything on credit until that’s done.
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