If You Don’t Have This, You’re Ripe for the Picking By Identity Thieves

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You wouldn’t even think of posting your Social Security number online, but it’s possible somebody else already has. Identity theft is no joke and most Americans are more vulnerable than they realize. 

I was stunned when I learned that my personal information had been posted to the dark web. I’m always careful to protect my personal information, but apparently that’s not enough anymore.

I’ve learned that it’s not enough to just be careful about giving out your Social Security number. It’s not enough to use encrypted email, VPNs, and complex passwords that you change every few months.

Even if you do all the right things to protect your personal information, you can still be compromised.

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Identity theft is no joke

According to Zander, over 15 million people had their identities stolen in 2021 alone. Identity theft is a big (and growing) problem.

If your identity is stolen, you could face a tedious, time-consuming, and expensive clean up process that could take years to complete. Meanwhile, your credit is destroyed, which will make it harder (and more expensive) to get a mortgage, car loan, or credit card. It could be tougher to get a job, professional certification, security clearance, apartment, or even just cell phone service.

Identity theft can even result in stolen tax refunds, drained bank accounts, and legal headaches over fraudulent debts opened in your name.

A stolen identity is bad news. I know this because I’ve talked with people who have gone through it.

You may be more vulnerable than you realize

From what I’ve learned, you may be more vulnerable to identity theft than you realize – even if you follow the usual best practices:

  • Using complex passwords (and changing them every so often)
  • Freezing your credit
  • Being careful about giving out your Social Security number
  • Using a VPN on public Wifi
  • Not clicking on weird attachments in emails from unknown senders
  • Using an antivirus
  • Using encrypted email

These are all great practices that you should definitely follow. I follow them myself – but I admit I don’t change my passwords as much as I should :).

But here’s the problem: these best practices only address what you can control. They don’t address what you can’t control. And that’s the issue! That’s why so many Americans are completely unaware that they’re basically sitting ducks for identity thieves.

Your personal information is stored on countless computers

Think about all the organizations you’ve worked for or have purchased products and services from in your lifetime. There’s probably hundreds or thousands of them, right? Many of them store sensitive personal information on computers that are connected to the internet.

Your employers, healthcare providers, accountants, tax preparers, insurance companies, banks, lenders, payroll providers, and retirement account custodians store highly sensitive personal information such as Social Security numbers, dates of birth, driver’s license numbers, account numbers, passwords, PINs, etc.

Credit repositories like Equifax, Transunion, and Experian store huge amounts of sensitive personal information. So do government agencies like the Social Security Administration, IRS, Veterans Administration, DMV, unemployment office, etc.

Your personal information is everywhere. There’s just no way that so much information stored on so many computers can be secure 100% of the time.

Data breaches happen all the time

Government agencies and corporations spend billions on data security, but data breaches still happen all the time.

Here are some of the most notable data breaches in the last 13 months. As you can see, it’s a long list and there are many big names on it. There were probably hundreds more data breaches at companies too small to make the list.

All it takes to compromise your personal information is for one boneheaded employee at your bank or insurance company to fall for a phishing scam, forget a security setting, or send a sensitive fax to the wrong number.

This kind of stuff happens all the time. Over 147 million Americans were compromised in the infamous 2017 Equifax data breach. That’s one out of two American adults.

You would never even think of posting your Social Security number on the internet, but it’s possible that somebody else already has. I was stunned to discover my own personal information on the dark web. There’s a good chance some of your personal information is there, too – which means it’s ripe for the picking by identity thieves.

Protection for what you can’t control

In my opinion, it’s not a matter of if, but when your personal information will be compromised – if it hasn’t been compromised already.

You can do all the right things to protect your personal information, but you can still be compromised by what you can’t control: data breaches caused by the mistakes, negligence, and malfeasance of others.

Our personal information is everywhereThere’s no way that so much sensitive information stored in so many places can stay 100% secure. Computer systems are complex, software has security holes, employees mess up, and hackers are constantly trying to break in.

No matter how well you protect it, your personal information can still be compromised in a data breach you have no control over.

These days, it’s not enough to just follow the best practices I already mentioned. Those are all good things to do – and I highly recommend doing them – but you’re still vulnerable because of what others do (or don’t do).

If you don’t have protection against what you can’t control, you’re ripe for the picking by identity thieves.

How I protect my family

We can do everything right to protect ourselves from identity theft, but we can still become victims because of what we can’t control. That’s why it’s a no-brainer to add additional protection to the picture, in my opinion.

Personally, I use Zander Identity Theft Protection. I’ve been with them for over ten years and highly recommend them.

Zander is endorsed by Dave Ramsey (which is a big deal), they have great customer service, their system is easy to use, and the protection is great.

They’re not just another credit monitoring service. They offer comprehensive protection for the same cost as many barebones credit monitoring services. They cover your whole family against all types of identity theft, not just the kind that impacts your credit.

Even better, Zander restores lost funds and cleans up the mess if you become an identity theft victim.

Again, I highly recommend Zander. If you’re ready to protect your family against what you can’t control, I urge you to check them out today.

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