I am a former data broker that spent 35 years manipulating and selling your personal data to junk mail companies. When I finally realized that the companies storing your private information and those using it were not listening to pleas for more security, I decided to get out of the business and write about it. I started The Dunning Letter in April of 2005 and blogged on privacy until December of 2010. In The Dunning Letter you will find a collection of useful information that will help you in protecting your data. Just do a “search” on your particular topic.
Identity theft, even in 2010, although causing million$ of losses then, has progressed today into a full-fledged business run by extremely well organized groups that have the best possible technology available behind them. Thus, the warning that you will be hacked. The culprits no longer concentrate on the source of your personal data–the warehouses of names and private information–but rather the companies this data is out-sourced to like Target, Home Depot and your financial institutions. It is there where additional info is added that makes your personal records valuable and marketable.
Once hijacked, it is on the black market in less than 24 hours. Overnight your credit card or debit card could be compromised without you knowing it. Unless your bank or credit card issuer is on the ball and stops the transaction. Or you keep daily track of the activity. Of course your liability is limited here but the hassle of issuing new cards is a real pain and is very time consuming. It is no longer a question of if, only a question of when. And please don’t be one of those, “It probably won’t happen to me.” It will.
Here’s what I do regularly:
- Check our bank accounts for any illegal debit charges or other strange activity
- At least once weekly check credit card accounts for abnormal activity
- Three times each year run a credit report with each credit bureau to insure there are no new accounts added in your name or other strange transactions
In the first two you can usually head off any serious credit repair by being vigilant. In the last, it will take some doing to get a malicious account off your records but either of the two organizations below will help you through the arduous process.