Identity theft has been a serious concern among security professionals for the last several decades. Increased use in social media and Smartphones have led to additional risks. According to a survey conducted by the Ponemon Institute in 2010, half of all respondents said they did not protect themselves online. The 2012 Identity Fraud Report, released in February of this year by Javelin Strategy and Research, also pointed to concerns about online identity theft. Specifically, users of social media websites like Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn experienced higher incidences of identity theft, although the report notes that no causative link has been found.
The Internet posed security threats to consumer behavior as more and more people signed up. Today, social media and Smartphones pose just as great a threat especially as the Internet becomes more integrated into daily life. Consumers and businesses must take steps to protect themselves and avoid risky behaviors. Using a service like LifeLock will help to keep your information safe, but is not a license to throw all caution to the wind.
A major risky behavior revealed by the Javelin report is inappropriate sharing of personal information on social media websites. Posting a phone number or home address on a public note is a major risk that can lead to identity theft. Unlike with paper documents, a social media user cannot shred a web page. The Javelin report emphasizes that social media users are simply not thinking before posting personal information.
Risky behavior connected with Smartphone usage includes not updating to a new operating system, not using a password and saving login data on the device itself. This makes a smartphone user vulnerable if the smartphone is ever lost or stolen. Third-party apps may also be a source of risk, especially the ones that demand broad access to a smartphone account in order to operate.
Other risky behaviors include giving out a credit card number to a suspicious website or vendor. The majority of identity theft involves shenanigans with credit cards. During tax season, which is fast drawing to a close, taxpayers are also susceptible to identity theft through bogus tax preparation schemes and the like.
Identity theft is a serious problem that can cost hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars to repair once it has taken place. The best prevention is to act safely. Institutions may suffer data breaches, but consumers do not have to add to the likelihood of having their identity stolen.