Employee Wellness

Social Media Exposes All Demographics to Identity Theft

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From baby boomers to millennials, it's widely accepted that social media has become a way of electronic life. In fact, today around seven-in-ten Americans use social media to connect with one another, engage with news content, share information and entertain themselves.

It seems a little ironic that with all the stuff we’re posting, tweeting and liking online that we hope people keep it to themselves. Yet the speed, convenience and anonymity of the internet are making cybercrime a fast-growing activity. One recent study found that one in every five Americans has had personal information stolen or an account compromised because of their online activities.

Identity thieves are constantly hard at work trying to hack, trick or threaten their way to getting your personally identifiable information, or PII. Cybercrime can include activities such as:

Identity theft.
Bullying.
Hacking.
Email spoofing.
Information piracy and forgery.
Phishing and imposter schemes.
Data pharming.
Spyware, malware and ransomware.
Social networking.

So what can you do to ensure your private data remains just that? Here are some helpful tips to consider:

  • When it comes to social media, only establish and maintain connections with people you know and trust. Review your connections often. Assume that anyone can see any information about your activities, personal or professional life that you post or share.
  • When you install a program or app, make sure you understand exactly what terms you are agreeing to, as well as what information you're agreeing to share and with whom.
  • Make sure your security software is current – and update it regularly. Having the latest security software goes a long way against viruses, malware and other online threats.
  • Lock or log off your computer when you step away. This ensures that no one else will have access to all your information.
  • Go offline when you don’t need an internet connection. If your computer is always connected, it increases the chances that hackers and virus scans can invade your computer.
  • On your smartphone, on your tablet on your computer, use PINs or passcodes to protect someone from easily accessing all your information. For social media websites and apps, be aware of your privacy settings and change them to your comfort level so only the people you want to see information can see it.
  • Consider sharing less online. Including information like your birthdate and the city where you live on your social media profiles can give criminals a more complete picture and make it easier for them to steal your identity.
  • Think twice about using public Wi-Fi. Hackers can easily connect to public Wi-Fi and watch your every move, including what passwords and account information you enter while you’re connected. To keep your information safe, either don’t use public Wi-Fi or avoid entering private information and using apps that have passwords when you are on public Wi-Fi.
  • When in doubt, don’t click. Cybercriminals can compromise your information through tweets, posts and online advertising, in addition to emails. If it looks suspicious, just delete it.

Ultimately, you are the gatekeeper of your personal information, so one of the most effective ways to keep your digital data private is to just not share it.

The fallout of identity theft can be far reaching. While the financial impact is evident, many don't realize the legal implications that come along with the theft. If online information has been stolen or compromised, it can take months to fully restore a person's identity, involving closing and re-opening new accounts, and countless hours with creditors, lenders and government agencies attempting to resolve financial or legal red tape.

Seeking an attorney can speed the route to recovery. A knowledgeable attorney can better induce cooperation from creditors, credit bureaus, debt collectors and government agencies to work with you to restore credit, address bank account issues and replace identification documents. For example, a straightforward letter from an attorney can quickly spur a creditor to correct a fraudulent report.

Employees who already have a legal insurance plan in place are in prime position to take control of situations regarding identity theft – especially in a social media world that's here to stay.

Interested in learning more about how legal insurance can benefit you and your employees? Contact us for more information.

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