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Identity Theft: 5 Vulnerable Groups and How to Reduce the Risk

In today’s digital world, privacy is a crucial concern. So much so that immediate steps are being taken by governments and businesses in an attempt to stay ahead of sophisticated hackers and cybercriminals.

Here we look at a couple of the latest protections and identify five key groups that are particularly susceptible to identity theft.

If you find yourself in one or more of these groups, there are also tips to help you lessen your exposure.

Who’s Most at Risk and How Can You Avoid Being Targeted?

The following five groups are particularly susceptible to identity theft. There are ways, however, that each group can mitigate their risk:

1. Avid Social Media Sharers

Cybercriminals thrive on unmitigated social feeds. Posting anything and everything online is a habit that can cost you your identity, money, and likely both.

Before posting, ask yourself:

  • Is there personal information revealed in that photo?
  • Does adding a geotag really add anything to that appetizing flat lay?
  • Is it essential to publicly share your agenda for your cross-country drive?

You can also:

  • Toggle app settings to prevent social media networks from disclosing personal information.
  • Turn off location tagging, photo access, email, and phone number sharing on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.
  • Enable encryption on messaging apps like WhatsApp and Telegram.

These tips seem minor, but they help keep your data safe when combined. 

2. People Unfamiliar with the Internet

While many of us can fairly easily sniff out and avoid invasive ads or clickbait scams, young kids and the elderly can find navigating the web a danger zone

If you have kids on the internet, always:

  • Double-check their privacy settings and disable in-app game purchases.
  • Turn off email notifications from non-contacts, turn off auto-fill settings, and enable kid mode.

The elders of our tribe can also be more susceptible to internet scams and are purposely targeted in digital financial cons. You can be a resource to the seniors in your life by:

  • Informing and educating on the tell-tale signs of phishing scams, such as downloads that ask for personal info, invasive ads, and emails with suspicious links.
  • Helping them link their email to yours so you can set up account oversight and ensure they’re protected from online scams.

They taught us stranger danger when we were young. Let’s repay the favor. Full circle.

3 . E-commerce Shoppers

Online shopping is fun and convenient…unless, of course, your identity gets hacked. No fun.

With your name, address, and bank info all in one place, e-commerce apps and websites are fertile hunting grounds for identity thieves. 

To better protect yourself when clicking to buy:

  • Forego your debit card. Credit cards have more consumer protection if things go wrong, and using them keeps your bank account info more private.
  • Transact only with trusted and legitimate sites and take extra caution when engaging in e-commerce with entities you’re not familiar with.
  • Stay on top of your transactions and frequently monitor your billing statements so you’ll notice right away if anything’s amiss.

4. College Students 

The Identity Theft Resource Center found that 64%of college students aren’t particularly concerned about identity theft.

Couple that with the fact that they constantly provide personal information online for academic papers, credit offers, and student loan processes.

Then there’s campus mailrooms, which are particularly troublesome since strangers can randomly sift through anyone’s mail.

Students are definitely at high risk, but there are some ways they can protect themselves:

  • Take careful inventory of passwords and PINs, track all online transactions, and secure postal mail via a virtual mailbox

Here is how we keep your data safe at Anytime Mailbox.

  • Keep official and original documents safe at home (or parents’ home), to minimize the risk of losing or exposing private documents in messy campus dorms. 
  • Lastly, parents can regularly audit credit history to ensure nothing out of the ordinary happens.

5 . Travelers 

When traveling, we rely on numerous online apps and websites, including sometimes using those apps while logged into Wi-Fi connections that we have no guarantee are secure.

We’re certainly more vulnerable to spying digital eyes when we’re on the road, so here’s a couple of things to keep in mind to keep those eyes off your personal info:

  • Don’t travel with unnecessary IDs or credit cards. Instead, travel with minimum personal info and guard it closely.
  • Set up personal data plans before going on your trip to avoid unsecured Wi-Fi connections as much as possible.
  • Have VPN on your laptop or phone. It will protect your data like username, password, credit card numbers, and other personally identifying information when using unsecured Wi-Fi. 
  • Try your best not to broadcast your entire travel agenda on social media. It leaves digital breadcrumbs for cybercriminals to follow back to your identity. Always think before you post. 

Recent Legislation Addresses Macro Concerns

On a broad scale, laws like the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) are being strictly implemented to regulate the use of personal data.

The CPAA secures the right to:

  • Know how personal information is used by businesses.
  • Delete collected personal information.
  • Opt out of providing personal information.
  • Non-discrimination for exercising the CCPA rights. 

Private Sector Protection and Prevention

  • More private companies now have privacy policies that are spelled out for their constituencies, like asking for explicit consent when gathering personal information or enabling website cookies. 
  • Privacy-focused browsers are getting much more traction, especially as big companies like Google are being exposed for the chinks in their data privacy armor.

While government and private sector innovations are a good start, complacency is a bad idea. 

Identity theft, financial scams, privacy breaches, and insurance fraud are alive and well, and those who engage in such maliciousness work 24/7 to circumvent the safeguards.

An Ounce of Prevention

None of us want to be looking over our digital shoulders all the time.

Fortunately, by using common sense and implementing a few simple precautions, we can enjoy the benefits of the digital realm while keeping our identities safe and sanity intact.

Good luck, and stay safe out there.

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