There is no shortage of news stories on identity theft. That’s because identity thieves will go to any lengths to acquire your information. Once they do, they can use it in endless ways, like the poor woman who went to apply for FEMA assistance only to discover someone had applied for and received payments in her name.
There are a lot of ways identity thieves get ahold of your information that you probably already know about. We rely on companies to use software that assures identity vulnerabilities aren’t overlooked so your info is safe when you shop, you probably know not to click on questionable links in unfamiliar emails, and you know not to give your personal information over the phone when someone calls asking you to confirm your account.
Even if you’re careful, you can still become a victim of identity theft because thieves are going to new lengths to get your information.
Monitoring Your Credit
Identity thieves often get ahold of a little of your information before they go the final mile and decide your identity is even worth stealing. With just a few bits of personal information, thieves can open credit monitoring accounts with the top credit bureaus so they can see which accounts you use, and which ones you don’t.
Then, they will choose a card that you don’t use and have a new copy sent to their address. Specialty cards are especially popular, like cards from furniture stores and clothing stores, because many people open these cards to get the initial deal, then never use them again.
Pinpointing Where You Live
Not only do thieves want to see if there are any accounts you aren’t using, they may also want to see if you’ve got enough wealth to even make it worth their time. After all, it’s much more lucrative to steal the identity of someone in an upscale neighborhood than someone living in an apartment on the bad side of town.
Many identity thieves will use websites like Google Maps and Zillow to find out where you live and see exactly what your house looks like before they decide who to target.
Hacking More Than Just Computers
Computers are a popular device to hack because much of the work we do and the bills we pay are on the computer, but there are other devices that hackers can target. Some of them might surprise you.
Cell phones are a popular target, especially since they can be hacked without you having to click on a single questionable link. Tablets can be hacked too, but so can surprising devices like:
- Smart TVs
- Smart refrigerators
- Baby monitors
- Security systems
- Voice activated systems
- Garage door openers
- Smart cars
Even stranger devices have been hacked. Medical devices are hackable, and one hacker even managed to hack into the aquarium thermometer at a casino. Hacking that one item enabled them to extract information from the casino’s high-roller database.
USB Charging Stations
It’s not just your devices you have to look out for. You also have to look out for the outlets where you plug in your devices.
Juice jacking is a creative way hackers are gaining access to personal information. Instead of targeting your device, they target the USB port where you plug your device in. The ports you have at home are relatively secure, but the ports you find in hotel rooms and in airport lobbies are not.
Criminals load malware on public charging stations, then the devices that are plugged in are infected with that malware, providing them with all the personal information that’s on your device.
Going Through Your Garbage
A lot of people pay a lot of attention to their security online, but many people are getting lazy when it comes to the classic ways information is stolen.
Dumpster diving thieves are still out there! That means you have to focus on ways to keep your identity safe when you throw your trash away. Shredding paper that contains your personal information is still recommended.
Keep an eye on what you throw in the actual trash, but you also have to keep an eye on items you put in the recycling bin. Thieves are more than happy to go through both!
Identity thieves are still placing phone calls and sending out emails, but they can do a lot more today than they ever could before. By staying informed, you can better protect you and your information from criminals.