6 Ways Technology Is Changing Identity Theft (for Better and for Worse)

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by PSECU, a Pennsylvania-based credit union.

Convenience comes at a cost. Today’s technology has streamlined everyday life, of course, but it has also created vulnerabilities for opportunistic criminals. Smartphones serve as an excellent example – they’re devices that enable quick, easy communication while providing an entry point for hackers and scammers.

Technology Is Changing Identity Theft

In other words, technology has both positive and negative aspects. While Facebook’s “Portal” allows its users to speak to each other with a high-definition display and voice assistant, consumers need to consider the extra camera and microphone they’re bringing into their home – especially with Facebook’s former mistakes.

As devices demand more and more information, identity theft continues to pose a serious problem on a massive scale. With another person falling victim to this type of fraud every two seconds, the issue is impossible to ignore, and new solutions are necessary to overcome obstacles with data protection and misuse.

We’ll examine three of those solutions as well as three of the problems that continue to compromise the personal information of Americans every day.

Positive Changes

In exploring the subject of identity theft, it’s best to begin with the positive contributions of technology. Consider these three strategies for the protection of personal data.

1] Credit Monitoring

While this type of technology is relatively basic in its functionality, it’s effective in the prevention of identity theft and erroneous credit reporting. It assists with the identification of unauthorized increases in the consumer’s debt, new applications for credit they didn’t initiate and other suspicious activity.

2] Smartphone Apps

Consumers can safeguard their personal data with an app, and they have a diverse range of options. Identity Guard provides real-time alerts as soon as it notices unusual activity, notifying the user of any significant changes that they should address. Life Lock also keeps information safe as well as organized.

3] Facial Recognition

Since 2010, state investigators at the Department of Motor Vehicles have made more than 4,000 arrests using facial recognition software. Updated technology enables the DMV to flag photographs that match those already in their database, catching people who apply for licenses under fake identities.

Negative Changes

Along with all the positive contributions of technology, it’s also made user information more available. Consider these three strategies for the retrieval of personal data.

1] Spyware

Spyware involves software or hardware that allows the controller to monitor and retrieve information from a computer. Installation is often remote, usually when the victim clicks on a link in an email or website. The costs for this small mistake are high, as thieves often charge more than $10,000 before being discovered.

2] Phishing Scams

Phishing Scams

Phishing is one of the most popular scams that many consumers have learned to watch for. The scam begins when a person receives an email linking to a fraudulent website that appears genuine, asking for the user’s information. Once it acquires that information, the criminal can use the data as they please.

3] Tech Support Scams

Many consumers are naturally trusting of tech support professionals, and criminals take advantage of this trust to gather personal information.

They inform their victim of a problem with their computer, then request remote access. With more than 15.4 million victims of identity fraud in 2016 alone, these strategies aren’t uncommon.

Looking Toward the Future

Technology exists in a gray area, helping people but also placing them in jeopardy. While credit monitoring, smartphone apps and facial recognition software may help, hackers are continually improving upon their methods and growing more sophisticated every day. Spyware, phishing and tech support scams are just the start.

As countries around the world contend with this challenge, it’s important for us all to maintain a sense of optimism. Identity theft will continue to pose a serious problem, but consumers have solutions to protect themselves and even thrive in an increasingly complex, data-driven world.

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