The Internet has ushered in a whole new world of opportunity for people to shop, express themselves, launch businesses, share photos with their loved ones and more. Unfortunately, with these convenient and ultimately life-altering technologies comes a widening window of opportunity for identity thieves.
In 2015, the Federal Trade Commission reported a 47% year over year increase in identity theft complaints, which has been a top source of the agency’s caseload throughout, at least, the first 15 years of this millennium.
How Does Identity Theft Work?
Understanding identity theft means knowing the many ways your information can be obtained and used; and acknowledging that hackers can pick and choose the “how?”
Obtaining Your Private Information
One of the most unsettling notions regarding your private information is that it doesn’t take a genius to obtain it. Yes, smarter criminals will get your data quicker through bigger networks and massive hacks, but that doesn’t mean that you should underestimate the everyday dumpster diver.
In fact, the tactics used by dumpster-diving identity thieves could help us understand the evolution of methods that eventually bred some of these big fish data hackers. People can glue together torn pieces of paper from the trash just like a hacker can fill in the blanks with tiny bits of data collected from all over the Internet. Perhaps the biggest difference between the two is the levels of control, where the collection size and speed is entirely up to the hacker’s ability.
In the end, your private information is a puzzle, and hackers want to piece it all together. What’s worse? They’re not all above asking others for help, should they even need it.
Using Your Private Information
Once your private information has been pieced together by hackers, chances are it will be used against you. Again, the “how” is entirely up to the hacker, and some attacks are worse than others. Depending on who you are and what the motives against you may be, the hacker will probably go after one of two things: your money, or your reputation.
Privacy Guard Protects Your Data
How do you avoid identity theft? Well, you could change your name, burn all your belongings and deal only in cash the rest of your life; but if you plan on remaining a member of this civilized and technological world, know that there are practical ways to protecting your sensitive data. It all comes down to shrinking, instead of widening, the windows of opportunity where data breaches occur.
InternetReputation.com offers Privacy Guard to do exactly that. Privacy Guard is a tool that tracks, secures and protects your private information online. Data collection websites are on the rise, and Privacy Guard seeks out behavior from these sites that could leave you vulnerable to a data breach.
Remove Information from Data Collection Sites
Data collection websites are sites that gain their revenue through making your personal information such as phone numbers, addresses and more available to the public. These sites are mostly visited by large companies who want to fill up your spam box, but it is also an open fishing pond for hackers to pick their next victims. The more information about you on these sites, the easier the rest of their job is.
But hackers aren’t the only risk associated with these sites, according to an article by CNN Money:
Privacy advocates fear that companies might use personal information–and particularly demographic information–to discriminate against certain consumers. For example, the FTC warns that lenders could target vulnerable groups with subprime loans, or insurers could decide that people with adventurous hobbies are high-risk.
Privacy Guard Monitors Data Collection Sites and More
With Privacy Guard, you will receive instant notifications every time your name is posted online. This will allow you to see if your private information is being shared, and then give you options towards removing or suppressing that information.
Data collection websites update themselves around the clock, which means you need a monitoring tool that does the same. Privacy Guard halts this activity by raising a red flag every time you appear on one of these sites so that you are not left vulnerable to further privacy breaches. As an acting buffer for online attacks, Privacy Guard is a deterrent for identity thieves and other malicious individuals who want access to your private information, but may settle for easier targets.