WHAT IS IDENTITY THEFT? AND HOW TO PREVENT IT.
The burgeoning demand for all things electronic means one thing, and one thing only, for consumers — taking precautions against a potential digital attack is imperative.
Recent events (The U.S. Postal Service, Home Depot, and Target data breaches) would lead us to believe that what the future holds, in terms of our threat to personal security, is only going to worsen. With the average company’s digital marketing budget projected to increase by as much as 8% next year1, and total online retail sales projected to hit a whopping $370 billion by 20172, the growing need for a digital B2C connection is most apparent. But how does this affect me directly?
This means that as our digital world continues to flourish uncontrollably, the level of fraudulent activity via any digital resource will follow suit, growing in sync exponentially. A singular state of instability — a relentless digital thresher, consuming the naive consumer (ironically) with the click of a button. Consumers are already being affected in a multitude of ways, most of which, they aren’t even aware:
- Credit/Debit Card fraud
- Phishing/viruses via email spam
- Spyware/Malware attack
- Identity theft
The latter, identity theft, being the most destructive. It’s not often that you would think the association of identity theft with email would be commonplace, but as the trend continues, no form of digital communication remains safe in its primordial state. But this doesn’t mean you should be afraid of using your digital resources, it simply means that you can’t throw caution to the wind. This is where having the proper provisions that prevent getting into these precarious situations is paramount. But what steps can I take to ensure my safety? Cue the drum-roll…
First off, when making online purchases, choose only verified, secure retailers, and make sure that the URL is secure (Https://) before submitting your information. Also, be wary of mobile applications asking for your consent to access other areas of your device or to submit private information, such as a credit card number.
Secondly, be smart about what you do and don’t share on the internet. Don’t go around blindly filling out each and every contact form, subscribing to every email list or or completing every survey you come across with reckless abandon. Impetuosity is no virtue.
And lastly, utilizing a secure email solution for your most sensitive messages (and attachments) can help ensure that both you and the recipient of the message remain protected. A secure email solution, such as NeoCertified, allows you to send, receive, track and audit all messages, while always attaching a non-repudiation signature to each message.
Identity theft is not often associated with email in the media, but the truth of the matter is that one of the sole reasons that federal, state and agency governance policies and regulations (FERPA, HIPAA, SEC, GLBA, etc.) even exist is to protect employees, customers, and clients from any chance of identity theft. To put the severity and seriousness of the situation into perspective, a penalty levied against a business for violating some of these policies can cost up to $1.5 million. Numbers never lie; identity theft is no joke.
Don’t take unnecessary risks, which could jeopardize your entire identity; be smart about how, when and to whom you choose to share private information with, and the manner that you do so.
1 – Janessa Rivera, Rob van der Meulen. (November 3, 2014). Gartner Survey Reveals Digital Marketing Budgets Will Increase By 8 Percent In 2015. Gartner.com. Retrieved 12 November 2014.
2 – Jiafeng Li. (May 10, 2013). Study: Online Shopping Behavior In The Digital Era. iAcquire.com. Retrieved 12 November 2014.