A young woman in Australia had her online identity stolen in one day after giving only her email addresses and social media handles to a white hat hacker. In this case, it was an ethical hack to show how identities can be stolen, but in a real life situation, a black hat hacker could have done the same, and the woman would be trying to recover from the theft right now.
The hacker used “her Skype account and activity on chat forums from more than five years ago that would provide easy access to other computer and Internet accounts such as her main email addresses.”
The young woman was amazed that he found out her Skype account username from her university days. She remarked “I didn’t think that was available. I didn’t even know my Skype username. Hypothetically you were able to find my university account that I haven’t used for more than five years. That worries me.”
She should be worried, as should we all, identity theft is a serious matter that could cost us our money, credit card purchases that we didn’t make, and ruin our credit rating. See Identity Fraud: 1 Victim Every 3 Seconds in U.S.
The bottom line of this story is that identity thieves are very good at what they do, and therefore don’t have to have much of your personal information to steal your identity. Each bit of personally identifiable information (PII) can be used to gain more data about you and that data used to find even more…and so on until they have enough information to impersonate you.
The next step in their crime scheme is to convince your bank that you need an additional checking account and to transfer all your funds to that account and order checks. They’ll also apply for credit cards in your name, using your PII on the applications of course. They then either sell the card number to other criminals or use it themselves to purchase high-priced items to sell. Depending on the laws of your country having to do with credit card fraud, you may or may not be liable for the actual purchases, but it will still ruin your credit rating because the thief doesn’t make any payments on the credit card account…your account, now.
I know of an identity theft that caused the victim to spend three years correcting their credit reports and rating.
The bottom line here is that you should be ever vigil about how much PII you give out to anyone, especially online…no matter how innocent and innocuous it may seem at the time.
Reference: www.theage.com.au article
Be very careful…it’s dangerous out there.
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