People who have been the victim of identify theft know it can take months or even years to clean up the mess. It is one of the most stressful experiences a person can have. The story I am about to share is very real. A close friend of mine was a victim of such a crime and the fact that resetting that person’s email password was all the thief needed to do to get the ball rolling is scary. This individual didn’t use simple passwords, yet the thief was still successful. Still, you should make your passwords and security questions unique and don’t use the same information for multiple accounts. Make the answers to your questions incorrect – just random information that isn’t even true. You may have to write down this information since all of us have so many accounts – making it impossible to remember everything. But, this minor inconvenience sure beats the major nightmare you will live if your identity is even stolen.
Herbert Thompson is an academic software developer who loves being a geek. He has stolen the identities of several casual acquaintances. In one case he gained access to a bank account in seven very simple steps. He didn’t use any programming tricks – only a little sleuth work.
As part of an experiment and with the permission of some people he barely knew, Thompson stole their identities to demonstrate to the public just how easy it is to gain access to personal data and banking information. His experiment only required some basic surfing for freely available personal data. The following steps show is how vulnerable we all are to security breach. (more…)