Did you know you can buy Social Security numbers (SSNs) online? It’s legal to do so in most cases, and pretty much anyone who has an internet connection can make a purchase. Information brokers or data brokers, as they are known, sell this information in the form of background checks. In some instances, the SSN needs to be provided to get the background check; in other instances, the SSN is available as part of an information package. There are plenty of legitimate reasons one would have to procure this information.
Recently, researchers discovered a few of the major data brokers had been breached in a way that allowed criminal hackers to install malware that allowed them through the back door of the data brokers’ servers. As a result, these same hackers set up their own website reselling the hacked data. The customers of the hacked data, it seems, are identity thieves—many of them organized criminals using the data for various scams and to open new lines of credit or take over existing lines of credit.
CNET reports, “The service’s customers have, the report said, ‘spent hundreds of thousands of dollars looking up SSNs, birthdays, driver’s license records, and obtaining unauthorized credit and background reports on more than four million Americans.’”
This goes to show you that some of the largest companies on the planet that spend the most amount of money on security and have the most to lose are hackable…which means you and I are even softer targets, and our identities are at risk everywhere.
You can’t rely on your government or corporations to protect your identity. It is essential you take proactive action and do it yourself. There are two approaches that work best when done together. I do both; you should too:
- Get a credit freeze. Search “credit freeze,” then individually visit each credit bureau (Experian, TransUnion and Equifax) and follow their process for a credit freeze.
- Invest in identity theft protection. It’s not enough just to get a credit freeze. There are many times when your credit won’t be frozen, and when your data is used to either open new accounts or take over existing accounts—and depending on the identity theft protection service, you will be assisted to mitigate any fraud.
ROBERT SICILIANO, CEO of IDTheftSecurity.com is fiercely committed to informing, educating, and empowering Americans so they can be protected from violence and crime in the physical and virtual worlds. His "tell it like it is" style is sought after by major media outlets, executives in the C-Suite of leading corporations, meeting planners, and community leaders to get the straight talk they need to stay safe in a world in which physical and virtual crime is commonplace. Siciliano is accessible, real, professional, and ready to weigh in and comment at a moment's notice on breaking news.
- Everything you need to know about a Credit Freeze
A credit freeze locks down your credit report so lenders can’t see your scores, making your credit/SSN useless to them because they don’t know their risk level. If thieves get ahold of your ID, they can’t get credit in your name as long as your credit is frozen. Freezing your credit will seal your credit reports.
- How to freeze your Child’s Credit
Identity thieves are after children’s Social Security numbers. With this number, a thief can do so many things like open a credit card account and rent an apartment. Kids’ SSNs have great appeal to crooks because: A child’s record is usually very clean. This means fertile opportunities for new credit lines. Kids usually don’t check their credit reports
- Data Brokers: Walking the Tightrope
Never mind the government nosing in on your business; there’s a much bigger snooper out there that’s mining to your personal data: thousands of companies whose names you may not even know. These “data brokers” aren’t “bad”, although a few are irresponsible. They collect and analyze your very personal information, then package it up and sell
- Hiring Employees: How to Perform a Criminal Background Check
Background checks are a necessary tool in today’s sometimes violent and certainly litigious society. If a rug installation company was to hire an installer, who eventually rapes and kills a client, then the rug installation company would be held libel for the animals actions. This example is one that happens all too often. It’s common sense
- 5 ways your identity is stolen
Chances are good that in the coming year, you will be asked to provide your or a family member’s Social Security number (SSN) at least a few times. And because of all you’ve heard about identity theft and all the advice like “never give out your Social,” you will hesitate, ask why the person needs