Standing in line at a local department store, I listened as the clerk asked for a customer’s phone number which she promptly gave him.
“6743?” he asked.
“Yes. 6743.” The clerk ran her debit card and it failed twice. The customer shockingly offered this tidbit, ”It’s not working? I’m always running into this. Here, you try it. My pin is 4743.”
My jaw hit the floor. As the clerk handed her the receipt and as she headed out the door, she had no idea how she had just compromised herself for identity theft.
Thousands of people have their identity stolen in mundane instances such as this. Armed with her phone number, her first name and (unbelievably…) the PIN of her debit card, a hacker can garner plenty of information to not only access her credit card, but something far more dangerous – her medical records.
Many times, a phone number, date of birth and a name are all a hacker needs to get into medical records to see a doctor, prescribe medications, even file claims with your insurance company. Medical Identity Theft is growing – over 2 million people were hacked in 2014 and on average, for 65% of those, the cost to repair it ran over $13,000. Not only did it cost money, but time as well, averaging over 200 hours to straighten it out.
What can you do?
NEVER give out your phone number, zip code or any other ways of identifying yourself in a storefront. Many stores ask for this information for marketing purposes. Simply decline, no one needs to know that in a public venue.
- Credit Reports – check them regularly to ensure no one is hacking your account.
- Friends and Family at an arm’s distance – a quarter of identity theft happens from someone you know.
- Scams – if someone contacts you over the phone for a “too-good-to-be-true” insurance policy, hang up.
- Report – If you feel you have been victimized, you received a bill you don’t recall purchasing, report problems to your health care provider, your insurer, and federal and state authorities. You can also contact your local police department, your state Attorney General’s office, and the Department of Health and Human Services.
- Document Disposal – NEVER just throw away old bills, they contain identifying account number, your address, phone number, pieces of information a hacker can use to easily access your accounts. Shred your bills, scan them or look to a reputable company to take care of these for you.
- Old Computer Disposal – Not only is it now illegal in some states to throw your computer into a landfill, it’s a goldmine for hackers to garner information from you. Don’t leave it curbside, dispose of the computer and destroy the hard-drive to ensure your privacy is intact.
Contact SecurShred to find the best method of protecting your valuable documents both for business and personal peace of mind.