Identity theft: are you a target? How to stay safe

Ever wonder how identity thieves choose their victims? It’s not always about targeting specific people – often, it’s a game of opportunity. Here’s how to protect yourself:

Low Hanging Fruit: The Target of Convenience

Imagine a thief looking for wallets. They’d probably go for the easiest target – an open bag left unattended. Identity theft can be similar. Criminals often target readily available information, like data breaches from companies with weak security.

Types of Targets:

While anyone can be a victim, identity thieves may be drawn to specific situations:

  • Easy Breaches: Companies with weak security practices or recent data leaks make their customers easy targets.
  • Demographic Appeal: Criminals might target specific demographics based on the value of the information they can steal (e.g., people with good credit scores).
  • Marketable Information: Some stolen data, like Social Security numbers, is more valuable on the black market than others.

You Got Hacked: What Now?

If you hear about a data breach at a company you use, here’s what to do:

  • Change Your Password: Immediately create a strong, unique password for that account (and any other accounts where you use the same password!).
  • Monitor Your Accounts: Keep an eye on your bank statements and credit reports for any suspicious activity.
  • Consider Identity Theft Protection: Services can monitor your information and alert you to potential threats.

Identity theft can happen to anyone. By being aware of how thieves operate and taking steps to secure your information, you can significantly reduce your risk.