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Today, criminals continue to find opportunities to exploit their victims through the lack of security measures for protecting personal identifying information.
Moreover, personal data is widely scattered with much of it outside an individual's control. Thus, consumers have only one fear now and it is not "Will I become a victim?" instead users are worried about when.
In 2016, we saw many incidents of hacking and identity theft. As such, the problem of identity theft has become a serious one. Millions are falling victim as these hackers or thieves are getting more experienced in stealing peoples' identity. What's more terrifying is that the ways they do it have become more advanced.
It might be a thing of the past where thieves used simple means to steal personal information, such as hacking data files with personal information in it. However, in the present time where everything has been digitized, thieves are using sophisticated new tech gadgets to steal information easily.
So let's take a look at these new gadgets, and also learn what can be done to stop these thieves from stealing your valuable data.
Basically, skimming is a criminal act which identity thieves use to capture data on debit or credit cards. What happens here is that the thieves attach a data storage device (skimmer) to an ATM machine, and sometimes to credit card readers also.
So when you swipe your card, while the transaction happens, the attached device makes a digital copy of the credit card information.
As an advice, never leave your ATM or credit card away from your sight. Closely examine cashiers when they swipe your card, and if you are at an ATM check for any unusual tampering with the machine. Also, keep a constant check on the bank statement.
There's a new type of digital pickpocket that has been discovered lurking in stations and shopping centers. Criminals or digital pickpocketers can easily steal information through a device known as RFID reader.
While the tap-to-pay technologies, especially chips built into some cards use RFID technology to transmit data, hackers can position the readers very close to any user more likely less than 6 inches away.
Once the device picks up the RFID signal, the transfer of the necessary information only takes seconds. Some chips are also re-writable, and it's even quite easy for hackers to delete or replace RFID information with their own data.
So how to keep these digital pickpocketers at bay? People can buy foil-lined wallets which will reflect the reader's signal. There are plenty of RFID-blocking wallets and card holders in the market as well.
Some identity thieves use no more laptops to gain access to any data. A thief might just drive around a neighborhood and look for an unsecured hotspot. Once the thief finds one, he/she logs into the wireless network and attempts to break into connected devices with other security vulnerabilities.
So it's always good to make sure that the computer's firewall is up and running. Home wireless networks should not be insecure.
Sometimes the devices and gadgets that you own might work against your security. You may have old gadgets lying around and sometimes you do forget to erase the data off the device. If that is the case, the device is an easy target for identity thieves to gather personal information.
What can you do? Keep sensitive information off these devices in the first place, and delete every device before trading it in or sell it. There's no telling where or to whom these devices will make it to. Avoid taking such chances.
This might not necessarily be a gadget, but it has been used as an effective medium for identity theft. There can be many ways such as Phishing, Spam Messages, Social Networking and more in which thieves can use the internet to steal your identity.
So, make sure to have strong options for privacy protection and include virtual private networks (VPNs) for online activity, firewalls, and hard-drive erasing programs.
Identity theft is becoming more and more a national problem. Moreover, if a thief swipes a person's identity, doors can open to bank and credit card accounts, ushering potentially severe problems into one's life. So make sure to always be on high alert and safeguard data and information. Keep away from things that might attract the thief as well.