IT News

Protect yourself against identity theft by guarding these numbers

The Division of IT is committed to helping you prevent identity theft. The  following excerpt from a blog by Adam Levin describes the numbers identity thieves are looking for.

“You probably realize that identity thieves are after your email addresses and passwords, but that’s not all they want. In particular, each of us is attached to various sets of numbers that, when cobbled together, enable sophisticated identity thieves to get their claws into you. The fraudster doesn’t need all your information to complete the problem set. They just need enough to convince others that they are you. Here are eight numbers that they are gunning for.

1. Phone Numbers

You want people to be able to call you; you may even list your phone number on a public-facing site. If you do, bear in mind some companies use your phone number to identify you, at least in part. With caller ID spoofing, it’s not hard for a fraudster to make your number appear when they call one of those companies.

2. Dates and ZIPs

Birth, college attendance, employment, when you resided at a particular address, ZIP codes associated with open accounts—these are all numbers that can help a scam artist open the door to your identity by cracks and creaks. Many people put this information on public websites, like personal blogs and social media sites. In the post-privacy era, it is imperative you grasp the concept that less is more. Another tactic worth trying is populating public-facing social media sites with inaccurate information—though you might want to check each site’s rules since some sites frown upon the practice.

3. PIN Codes

Card-skimming operations use a device to capture your debit card information while a camera records you as you type in your PIN code, making it very easy for a thief to replicate. Cover your hands and be paranoid, because it’s possible someone actually is watching you

4. Social Security Numbers

Your Social Security number is the skeleton key to your personal finances. There are many places that ask for it but don’t actually need it. Be very careful about who gets it and find out how they collect it, store it and protect it. Whenever you’re asked for your SSN, always consider whether the request is logical based upon the context of your relationship with them.

5. Bank Account Numbers

Your bank account number is on your checks, which makes a personal check one of the least secure ways to pay for something. Consider using a credit card. You get rewards, buyer protection and less of your information will be out there.

6. IP Addresses

Scammers can use malware and a remote access tool to lock files on your computer and then demand a ransom in exchange for access. A message informing a user that his or her IP address is associated with online criminal activity is a common scare tactic used in ransomware scams. Don’t fall for it.  While it’s not difficult to track an IP address, there are a number of browsers that hide your IP address and associated searches from the bad guys, and there are fixes for ransomware.

7. Driver’s License and Passport Numbers

These are critical elements of your personally identifiable information that represent major pieces of your identity puzzle and, once you have the number, these documents can be counterfeited. Countless times each day, millions of personal documents undergo major makeovers and suddenly feature new names, addresses and photographs of fraudsters.

8. Health Insurance Account Numbers

Health insurance fraud is on the rise, and one of the biggest growth areas is identity-related health care crimes. This can jeopardize your life — not just your credit or finances, as the fraudster’s medical information can be commingled with yours, precipitating blood type changes, and eliminating certain allergies to meds or presenting new ones.  The results can be catastrophic when a course of treatment is prescribed based upon incorrect information in the file.”

Levin, Adam. (2014, May 29).  8 Numbers IdentityThieves Want to Steal from You.  [Web log
post].  Retrieved from http://blog.credit.com/2014/05/numbers-identity-thieves-want-83924/