Technology allows us to achieve many goals we could only dream of decades ago. But one of the worrying aspects of technology is that it can also be misused by malicious individuals. Identity theft is just one of the many examples that have been made possible through technology. Although, not every phase of identity theft is as “high-tech” as some people would like to believe.
Obtaining Someone’s Personal Information
The topic of “convenience versus security” will always lead to heated debates when it comes to technology and its rapid evolution over the past twenty years. Our daily lives have become intertwined with the use of various technological advancements, even though we do not always understand the full implications of what we are doing.
As a result, technology is often criticized for opening the floodgates of illegal activity, especially on the Internet. However, one thing to keep in mind is there are always two sides to these stories. Granted, there are quite a few individuals out there who enjoy nefarious acts. But there are also uneducated consumers who fall for these scam tactics, simply because they don’t understand the ramifications of their actions.
But there are lots of other ways to obtain someone’s personal information, which do not necessarily involve hacking databases filled with sensitive data. Creating a fake property listing under someone else’s name – who is an actual real estate agent – in order to collect social security numbers is a very low-tech approach.
Additionally, these same types of tactics are used in the real world as well, without resorting to the online aspect. Anyone can go through your garbage in search of sensitive personal information, such as your date of birth. Or in the worst case scenario, they will steal your wallet, note everything down somewhere and return the wallet to a police station in your area.
To make matters even worse, most people can find out sensitive personal information from just about anyone by looking up their social media profiles. On Facebook, for example, most people will share their date of birth, which is all a thief would need to look up additional information about their victim.
Protecting Yourself From Identity Theft
There are several ways to protect your identity, both in the online and offline world. Any documentation that arrives by mail with your information on it, even shipping labels, should be shredded before they get thrown away. Even the slightest hint of personal data is enough for a shrewd individual to steal your identity, so why give them the chance in the first place?
Speaking of using social media platforms, it is advisory that all users increase their privacy settings sooner rather than later. Especially Facebook users, who may want to take a closer look at their privacy settings, as they are very customizable and do not diminish the user experience in any way. But these are just baby steps compared to what you could – or should – really be doing in the long run.
The next tip should come as no surprise, even though very few people actually use it. Whenever you see something online that you are interested, use Google’s image search to see if the image has been taken from another user or different website. In doing so, you can easily spot the posers from the legitimate people at no additional costs.
Last but not least, there is one golden rule to keep in mind at all times. If an offer or listing sounds too good to be true, it usually is. This doesn’t automatically mean it’s not legitimate, but there will usually be something you are not made aware of, that may come back to bite you in the rear.
Blockchain Technology as a Way to Combat Identity Theft and Fraud
Bitcoin’s underlying blockchain technology can play a key role in the fight against identity theft and fraud. By providing a public ledger to store user data, you may think the blockchain would be giving away sensitive information for free. But nothing could be further from the truth, as only the owner of that data can access this information by providing one – or more – private keys, only known to them.
Furthermore, Bitcoin – when seeing it in the light of a payment method – does not require a user to provide any personal information. Traditional payment methods, such as credit cards and wire transfers, will create a paper trail – even in a digital form – including some of your personal information. Bitcoin solves that problem, as your wallet address is not directly linked to any of your information, not even your name.
Last but not least, decentralizing your sensitive data is never a bad idea. Rather than submitting this information to centralized agencies – who get targeted by hackers quite often – storing it on Bitcoin’s blockchain could prove to be a far more robust way of protecting what is near and dear to you.
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