We don’t always hear about it in the news, but identity theft is on the rise. Our constant internet usage has given us a large digital footprint. And the more you are online, the greater your risk of criminals hijacking your information and using it to commit fraud.
It is nearly impossible to go completely off the grid once you are on it, but there are steps you can take to minimize your risk. And understanding where your personal data might be living is a great place to start.
Here are six different ways that personal information shared online can end up in the wrong hands:
- Retail and social media websites
- Data collection websites that store your information (White Pages, PeopleFinder)
- Old website pages you appear on (such as forums or blogs)
- Personal information on websites (old addresses, contact information)
- Outdated search results where you may still appear (such as former employer pages)
- Any old, outdated, or non-secure email addresses
For tips on how to risk-proof your digital presence and remove your information from these places online, check out this great article, 6 Ways to Delete Yourself from the Internet. Don’t forget, everybody in your household is at risk for identity fraud. So, every family member should take the same precautions to keep their personal information secure.
Your internet footprint may be stronger than you know and it is important to safeguard your personal information today before it is too late. Approximately 60 million Americans were affected by identity theft in 2018 alone. With billions of dollars stolen each year, it is essential to take data breaches seriously.
Being smart by protecting your important documents (particularly those documents that include your Social Security number) is critical. Be sure to take proactive measures in closing old online accounts and being fully aware of where your information currently lives on the internet.