By Kaleigh Helm

Technology impacts almost everyone’s lives in many ways. However, while technology brings an array of benefits, there are also downsides that people may not think about regularly.

Identity theft is prevalent, and it occurs when your personal information is compromised, used to commit fraud, make purchases, use your credit cards, take over bank accounts and other financial holding and more. Personal information commonly stolen includes your Social Security number, name and address, credit card or bank account information, and medical insurance account numbers.

Now, you may be asking yourself how this could happen. Here are several common ways your personal information can be compromised and how to avoid it:

Data Breaches

Data breaches are the most common way your information can be stolen. With so many different businesses and organizations holding your personal information, there is always a risk of this occurring. Data breaches can expose your full name, social security number and credit card number. You may have already experienced a breach through a company that had this information and received notification of such.

In this case, it is highly recommended to change the numbers of the accounts or cards breached. Another tip – be careful with who you give your information to and how much personal information you put online.

Unsecure Browsers

If you come across a website that says “not secure,” there may be a risk of hackers on the site because the site has not taken general recommended safety precautions like obtaining an SSL Certificate. Risky websites won’t always warn you, but if you are on a website that you are unfamiliar with, do not provide your personal information.

Credit Card Theft

There are several ways your credit card information can be leaked, including due to data breaches, someone physically taking your card and online stores that store your card information in an unsafe manner.

To prevent this: when buying from online stores, make sure it is a store you are familiar with and that you do not save your credit card information to the website.

Mail Theft

When people take your mail from your mailbox, doorstep or even the trash, they can use it to their advantage.

To prevent this, make sure to shred any mail, including your address, billing information, scratch off your address from boxes delivered to you and make sure not to throw out any information that can be used to steal your identity.

Phishing and Spam Attacks

Have you ever gotten a weird email or text that says that someone is trying to steal your information or that you won a prize from a lottery you never entered? Well, that is what phishing and spam attacks are. The message may seem reliable to open, and the website may appear safe, but they will ask for login information, credit card information or your Social Security Number.
To avoid these attacks, don’t open random links, and if something seems off to you, it most likely is.

Wi-Fi Hacking

If you have ever connected to a public Wi-Fi network in a coffee shop, at an airport, at a mall, etc., it is very likely that your information can be or has been stolen. The term “eavesdropping” refers to hackers viewing what you are doing on your device on public networks. For example, they look to see if you enter any passwords, use your credit card number or enter any other personal information. Then the “eavesdropper” takes your data for his or her use.

It is a good idea to stay away from public networks and use your hotspot or a trusted individual’s hotspot instead. If a hotspot is not an option, do not make your device discoverable in these public network places.

Mobile Phone Theft

With people storing their data on their smartphones nowadays, they have become prominent targets for thieves. If your phone is taken, think about all of the available information on your phone, including emails, passwords in your notes, your credit card linked in your “wallet,” and more – all of which can be stolen.

To prevent this from happening to you, make sure that you don’t have an easy password that others can guess, don’t share your passwords with anyone, don’t keep passwords in your notes on your phone and don’t keep all personal information on your device.

It’s also crucial for individuals and business owners to protect themselves online in a variety of ways. For more information on coverages available to protect you in the event of one of these incidents, contact TrustPoint Insurance & Real Estate.