You wouldn’t think a child’s toy could lead to a breach of your personal data. But this happens all the time.
What about your trash can sitting outside? Is it a treasure trove for an identity thief?
Many everyday objects can lead to identity theft.
Old smart phones
Our smartphones and tablets have become extensions of ourselves, storing a vast amount of personal information. If lost, stolen, or compromised, these devices can provide unauthorized access to sensitive data, including emails, contacts, financial apps, and social media accounts.
Make sure you clean any old phones by erasing all data or destroying the device.
Protect wireless printers by ensuring you keep their firmware updated. You should also turn it off when you don’t need it.
Identity theft criminals aren’t only online. They can also be trolling the neighborhood on trash day. Discarded items in your trash can reveal personal information that identity thieves can exploit. Dumpster diving is a common tactic used to extract valuable data, such as bank statements, credit card receipts, or pre-approved credit offers.
Always shred or destroy any documents before disposing of them, even those that may not seem sensitive at first glance.
It’s also wise to invest in a cross-cut shredder, which provides better protection compared to strip-cut shredders.
You should never plug a USB device of unknown origin into your computer. This is an old trick in the hacker’s book. They plant malware on these sticks and then leave them around as bait.
Old hard drives
When you are disposing of an old computer or old removable drive, make sure it’s clean. Just deleting your files isn’t enough. It’s best to get help from an IT professional to properly destroy your old computer hard drive.
We have a special drive crushing tool at Tech Experts – just let us know if you need some drives recycled.
Physical documents, such as bank statements, bills, medical records, and tax documents, contain a wealth of personal information. Disposing of them carelessly or leaving them unattended can be an open invitation to identity thieves.
Always shred sensitive documents before discarding them, especially those containing financial or personally identifiable information. Furthermore, consider digitizing important documents and securely storing them on encrypted devices or cloud platforms with strong authentication measures.
Children’s IoT devices
You should be wary of any new internet-connected kids’ devices you bring into your home. Install all firmware updates and do your homework.
This is called skimming. Malicious actors can use hidden devices on ATMs or card readers to steal your card information during transactions.
Identity theft can have devastating consequences, impacting both your personal and financial well-being.
Safeguarding physical documents, securing mail, keeping wallets and purses safe, protecting mobile devices, and properly disposing of personal trash are essential steps in minimizing the risk of identity theft. Remember, vigilance and informed decision-making are key.