Identity theft stories are in the news almost constantly, but it's not every day you hear about a personal identity theft. Apparently, the Secret Service doesn't protect against identity theft.
information hack of this magnitude. First Lady Michelle Obama, along with more than a dozen other celebrities and political figures, had her personal information published online. The incident, reported by the New York Daily News, has many people wondering who is safe from hackers and
Big Names, Big InfoThis hacker did not seem to target people of specific political parties or people with certain agendas. Vice President Joe Biden and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton were hacked, while former Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin's information was also published. Celebrities like Beyonce, Jay-Z and Kim Kardashian had social security numbers, phone numbers, credit reports, addresses, mortgages and bank accounts published, according to the New York Daily News.
How Did He Get the Info?It is unknown how the hacker retrieved the information. The site has a Soviet Union address, but the location of the hacker has not yet been determined by authorities. Not all information on the site was accurate. Some phone numbers led to random businesses, while others did not connect at all.
Anyone Can Be a VictimThe celebrity-hacking scandal has gotten a lot of attention, but most importantly it brings the devastation of identity theft to the forefront of people's minds. Anyone can be affected by online identity theft. It is not every day that you hear about rich and famous people going through this situation, but it is every day that the average American citizen is dealing with the reality of identity theft. In fact, according to Statistic Brain, 8.5 million people fall victim to identity theft and fraud every year in this country. That's 7 percent of United States households — and each person affected typically loses about $4,000 from the incident, according to statisticbrain.com.
Be ProactiveYou should change your passwords frequently, use multiple passwords for various accounts and take the time to utilize safe and secure payment methods when making online transactions, according to the New York Times. According to LifeLock, there are multiple steps you can take to secure your identity:
- Think like a thief: If any valuable information is on documents don't throw it away. Shred old bills, credit card statements or prescription bottles, or anything like social security numbers, bank accounts or your address.
- Credit card purchases online: Federal law for fraudulent credit card purchases generally have better guarantees than debit card uses. Use your credit card for online purchases when you can.
- Clear your browser: This includes your cache, history and passwords, especially if you're using a community computer or unsecured network. You can tell it's unsecured if the URL has http://, instead of https://.
- Credit applications: Consistently and completely fill out all information with your full name. Every bill you receive should be delivered like this and if it isn't you can figure out why.
- Give your Social Security number when absolutely necessary: Ask to give an alternate number and take your business elsewhere if merchants refuse.