Identity theft isn’t just lifting your bank account information or most recent credit card statement. In 2022, it’s a sophisticated network of thieves who use technology and advanced devices. These techniques can be used to submit documents, erase records, lift account information and generally turn a person’s life upside down for their own gain.
Identity theft is a significant concern for those aged 65 and older. In fact, 94% of that demographic listed it as a concern to worry over. Those aged 18-29 weren’t far behind, with 86% listing identity theft as a problematic issue.
The Four Most Vulnerable Identity Sectors
With identity theft costing several million dollars in fraud every year – 350 million in 2021 – no area of your life isn’t up for grabs when it comes to personal information theft. In the first quarter of 2022, the Identity Theft Resource Center noted a 14% increase in reported data breaches than in the first quarter of 2021.
The number of reported individual cases also increased to 1,862 from 1,506, the previous record from 2017. In addition, specific sectors of activity and information took a hard hit among the cases reported in 2022. The four busiest data breach areas were in the following categories:
- Healthcare: Medical records are a hot commodity for identity thieves. Not only do they usually contain all your pertinent personal information, but they are also an easy way to access financial institution information.
- Financial Services: Your personal finances are gold and can be an easy target for identity theft. Maintaining your finances is a top priority at most financial firms and institutions. Financial IT managed care is expected to comprise 33% of overall cyber security budgets by 2023.
- Manufacturing/Utilities: Manufacturing and utility divisions were the third areas to suffer data breaches in early 2022. These areas are essential to identity thieves because, frequently, they will use your personal information to open new credit accounts that you become responsible for paying.
- Professional Services Industry: The business industry is a massive draw for identity thieves because, like personal finance assets, businesses have an even larger asset pool to draw from. Imagine an identity thief taking out a loan in your business’ name. You’d then be on the hook for whatever charges they racked up.
While any industry and all personal areas are fair game for identity hackers, they’re looking for pertinent information. That information can lurk anywhere in your personal or professional life. Learning how to keep all that information secure is critical to ensuring your identity remains in your hands only.
Tips to Secure Your Identity
There are several ways that a person or business can help secure their information. There are several easy-to-implement steps for the individual to keep their data safe.
- Set up Strong Passwords: Using the same password for several or all of your personal accounts is common. However, doing so can be dangerous and leave you open to identity theft. Several apps are out there to help you create and manage passwords keeping your data safe.
- Lock All Devices: Putting a screen lock on all your devices and ensuring your strong passwords goes a long way in protecting your information.
- Two-Step Authentication: This procedure gives websites like your email and banking institution an extra edge in combating identity theft. These sites help secure your personal and professional assets by ensuring two steps to fulfill before you gain access to critical information. It's also referred to as “Two-Factor Authentication.”
- Never and Always: Never give out personal information over the phone or by text. This includes but is not limited to banking information, social security numbers, driver’s license info. etc. Anything that can be used to obtain your credit or other personal asset data. And always do your online shopping and banking at home.
Businesses can implement many of these same techniques to keep their patron information system safe from identity theft. They can also hire a cyber security firm to update all their internet safety protocols and help maintain uniformity through their organization. Being on the same page helps everyone understand the importance of personal and professional data security responsibility.
By securing your home network and keeping your devices locked with strong passwords, you can advocate for your personal data safety. Checking your credit often and adding two-step verification also ensures your data safety. No matter where you are on your personal wellness journey, establishing these basic safety precautions can buffer your identity or that of your business against theft.
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This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.
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