According to IBM, more than 1 BILLION records with personal ID information were LEAKED (not stolen but accidentally LEAKED) in 2014 alone (the most recent year statistics are currently available for).
Identity theft is a specialty, these guys are really good at what they do and it only takes a few data points for them to wreak havoc in your life or your business.
The cold hard fact is that hackers aren’t always after your business, your website or even your money.
Hackers are targeting your DATA or your CUSTOMER’S DATA.
For most YOUR PERSONAL DATA is worth WAY more than your TOTAL net worth!
Why Should You Worry About Account & Identity Theft?
The saddest fact of all is they are way more determined to get their hands on your good credit/name/reputation than most of us ever bother to be about securing it!
What I hear a lot from clients and friends alike that totally freaks me out are variations of “my business | website | bank balance |credit card limits are too small for hackers to be interested in targeting me”.
Will A Strong Password Protect You?
Well yes and no, it really depends on how consistent you are about using strong passwords, not using the same password for more than one account and having a truly secure way to manage them.
I use LastPass which is a FREE secure fully encrypted system (Premium is $12 per year – well worth it to be able to sync and access across all your devices).
It’s a breeze to get started, simply sign up at LastPass.com and set-up an account, then go about your business as you would normally.
As you login to sites that require a login and password, LastPass will ask you if you want to save the site and when you do, your LastPass Vault will start filling up with all the sites you access regularly.
Here’s THE THING, once you start using LastPass you can use truly STRONG PASSWORDS, which need to be at least 15 characters, use upper & lower case letters, minimum 5 numbers and a few special characters too if they’ll let you use those (some sites don’t).
I can barely remember what I had for breakfast some days, so true strong passwords would be out of the question for me if I actually had to recall them myself.
With LastPass you simply need ONE MASTER PASSWORD to access your vault (filing system) where you simply click on the icon for the site you want to access and it logs in for you!
Are Your Passwords Secure?
If you want to have a little fun with this or you’re just curious to see how long it would take a fraudster running a Brute Force program on his laptop to break your password/s, Click Here to Test Your Own Passwords 🙂
How To Create Strong Passwords
So now you know you the best tool to use which I believe is LastPass, you’ll need just ONE Master Password to keep that secure.
Check out my little video below, it shows you in real time a cool way to come up with strong passwords that are super easy to remember and that you can create (written if you need them) reminder hints for, that won’t make sense to anyone but you.
Still Not Convinced It’s Worth the Effort?
Here’s a some independent insight as to what those pesky hackers, fraudsters and miscreants will do with your data once they get their sticky little mitts on it.
Stolen identities are often sold to the highest bidder, and often in or via foreign locations, which all adds to the cost and difficulty of tracking them down in any effort you can make to restore your money, credit or reputation.
According to the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) annual report of consumer complaints the most common way to steal someone’s ID is to target their email account.
It makes sense for them to start there because this is where almost every aspect of our lives meet and we’ve even conveniently organized it all in one place for them.
Think about it, work, school, banking, travel plans (now your upcoming weekend trip to the beach… means your house is a target too), online shopping and social media accounts are all in there somewhere.
If these miscreants get access and control of your email account they will typically:
- Lock you out of your account first and foremost
- Set up an alternate (back-up) email address (theirs)
- Use the registered email address (which you’re now locked out of) to change the passwords on all your accounts before they go about giving your credit cards a workout way beyond your family’s wildest wish-list dreams!
If they can get control of your email account, they’ve basically hit the fraudster’s lottery jackpot! Not only is all your information in there but also lots of handy links to your family and friends information too!
Don’t be complacent about your Social Media accounts either. Remember, once they’re in they can access your profile information and that means they have your phone, cell phone, email, date of birth and many other data points needed to then go access your email and bank accounts.
What To Do If Your ID is Stolen or Compromised?
If your identity is stolen, it’s essential you take action to minimize the effects immediately.
- File a Report with your local police department and submit an ID theft affidavit.
- Contact Equifax (800-525-6285), Experian (888-397-3742) and TransUnion (800-680-7289) and provide the information they need. Request they make a note on your credit record that your Identity has been compromised.
- Close as many accounts as possible – this may reduce your credit score for a short while but it will bounce back as soon as you get things sorted out.
- Change passwords on all your accounts – use strong passwords 15 characters or longer with at least 5 numbers and some special characters if allowed.
- Call the FTC to see if there are any steps they recommend not listed here.
- Sign up for a Credit Monitoring servcie – CreditKarma is FREE.
- Pay close attention to all your account statements for any strange charges – address them immediately.