If your email box has suddenly been inundated with a deluge of SPAM, consider what could be happening. Could that flood of email be a smoke screen to cover that you’ve been hacked? A new trick in the identity theft war is to gain access to a victim’s important account. Then the thief will flood your email account with SPAM. Most financial institutions will notify you of any unusual activity but that notification might be hidden in the pile of SPAM email. You are busy getting rid of SPAM and the notification is discarded with the trash.
You think that you are pretty smart because you have the “perfect” SPAM blocker but you might have outsmarted yourself. Did the notification get moved into the junk mail folder? Do you check your junk mail? It seems redundant, email is marked as SPAM but you have to check it. What good is a SPAM or junk filter?
What about a strange small charge on your credit or debit card? Another trick that is used by thieves is to make a small charge on a stolen credit card. If that charge goes unnoticed, the thief has a good card. The thief is doing a double whammy. The small charge will usually be a donation to a charity. The charity’s reputation is smudged and you are out some money.
If you don’t do any computer transactions, are you safe? …ABSOLUTELY NOT! Even if you don’t do any electronic banking, you could still become a victim. Your bank or retailer may be an unwitting accomplice when your identity information is compromised. If a hacker gains access to any database where information about you is stored, the hacker knows about you. Think about it. Even if you don’t own a computer, you could become a victim of computer hacking.
Laws do influence people but criminals have no regard for laws. Hacking and computer crimes are illegal but criminals will weigh the penalties and rewards of an illegal activity. Laws aren’t enough. There has to be locks or security in place to protect personal information. While many people complain about HIPPA, it has forced health providers to be more cautious about health information that it retained about us.
Most financial institutions make serious attempts to protect our information but perhaps financial institutions should be held to the same standards as the health care industry.
What can you do to protect yourself? Be very careful with your personal information. Banks and government agencies are required to maintain information about you. Consider providing misinformation to any other organization that requests information about you. Why should a retailer have any personal information about you?
An identity thieves can make an real mess out of your life. Don’t make it easy for them.