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Protect your identity by eliminating paper trails
October 19, 2016
Paper cuts aren’t the only time paper can be harmful. Identity thieves are getting more and more creative with today’s scams but some of the most common occurring practices are still happening through social engineering, mail theft, and paper trails containing personal/sensitive data that is neglected and left behind or thrown away. Social engineering is the method of influencing or tricking a victim into giving up sensitive information. Often times, the targets are those who a thief has some pieces of information already collected.
Your probability of being subjected to identity theft is directly related to the efforts you take to minimize risk. A single piece of mail may seem harmless, not containing anything too sensitive or valuable, but it could be the missing piece someone needs to access an account or impersonate you. As a rule of thumb, any mail or paper that has any piece of your information should be disposed of in a secured fashion such as a paper shredder. With enough pieces of the right information, the impact and ease of identity theft is compounded. A thief can begin to divert some or all of your mail using a change of address. Upon collecting pieces of your mail, your information becomes compromised and the thief starts to access your accounts leading to uncovering even more data, or begin impersonating you for financial gain.
Thieves can also attempt phishing for information by claiming you are entitled to something free or have money to claim. One example is a piece of mail you may receive pertaining to a class action lawsuit of a popular product or device. This may claim to award some money and only requires filling out a small questionnaire asking sometimes seemingly harmless information. Some have even reported fake class action lawsuit forms that attempt to trick you by asking for your bank account information to be able to draft your earnings directly into your account.
One effective way of minimizing risk is to minimize or eliminate as many paper trails as possible and administer all of your data sensitive services online. Through this method, you can manage and change your passwords regularly and eliminate unwanted sensitive mail from being sent which can be intercepted before it even hits your mailbox. With some modern devices, you can even establish a PIN based entry or fingerprint authentication when signing into online services to provide an extra layer of protection beyond the standard username / password required to use the device.
The best way to eliminate the industry of scamming is to be vigilant and take all possible precautions to keep your information safe.