What is the one thing that every cyber crime and identity theft requires? Information. And if you are wondering what information that answer is easy; numbers. Vital numbers. See, believe it or not, numbers dominate our life. Numbers tell everybody everything about us. Black people need to focus in these numbers to steer clear of cyber crime.
Cyber criminals are looking for eight numbers. Now keep in mind that they don’t need all eight to rob you. Just the right combination to convince someone that they are you. What numbers?
Let’s start with your phone number. What is it cell or home number or work number? We want people to call us if necessary. But we struggle with that issue because we get annoying calls from telemarketers. or politicians during and election cycle. A lot of people prefer unlisted numbers. But you’d be surprised how many people still have numbers listed in phone books. Yes people, phone books are still being used even with the Internet. Keep in mind that many companies use your phone number to identify you. They simply use your phone number as your account number when doing business. Its not hard for a cyber criminal to use software to make your number show up when calling these businesses. Its called caller ID spoofing. This is how information is stolen.
Important Dates and Zip Codes
Any date can be a vital number for a cyber criminal. Including birth dates, dates you attended college, the date you started working at a certain job, when you lived at a particular address, even ZIP codes associated with your open accounts. All these numbers help a scam artist break into your life a little at a time. This is why social media is so dangerous. Most people post this information on their Facebook account without thinking. Read, Social Media, Good, Bad & Ugly to see what criminals can learn just by reading your Facebook page. You need to learn how to use security and privacy setting on Facebook and other social media sites. We live in the age where privacy is hard to come by. So focus on providing as little information as possible. Or practice using incorrect or misleading information on your social media site. If the social media site you use doesn’t like it so what. Close your account. You’ll be better off.
Card skimmers are devices used to capture your debit or credit card information. They can be mounted on any card reading device using a magnet or some form of adhesive. The device reads the data on your card while a small camera records you as you type in your PIN number. This is a common scam. A skimmer can be anywhere. Whenever you use a ATM or other card reader give the card slot a good tug The skimmer might come off in your hand. Same for the key pad. Try to pull it off or move it. Good advice is cover your hands and be paranoid about people around you.
Social Security Numbers
This is the Holy Grail of them all. Once you lose this its pretty much over. My best advice; give it only when it is absolutely necessary. I mean ABSOLUTELY! A lot places will ask for your social security number but they don’t need it. Its up to you to decide who gets it. Make sure you know how they will use it and how they will protect it.
Bank Account Numbers
You can find these numbers paper checks. By the way paper checks are probably the least secure way to pay for things. Use a debit card. Its quicker and easier and not likely to bounce. You may also consider using your credit card. Credit cards offer rewards for using them and buyer protections and reveal a lot less of your information.
In case you didn’t know IP addresses are the location of your computer on the Internet. This allows scam artists, malware, or other remote control software to lock the files on your computer and then demand a ransom in exchange for access. Its called ransome ware. It is often accompanied by a warning message that your IP address is associated with online criminal activity or has visited unauthorized websites like child porn. Its a common scam. It’s not difficult to track an IP address. But there are also a number of browsers that hide your IP address and associated searches. Google Chrome has a an “Incognito” function that hides your IP address. And there are fixes for ransomware, sometimes. Sometimes the scammer will encrypt your files and you may never get them back. That’s why you should have a good back up disk or location in the cloud.
Drivers License and Passport Numbers
These are critical pieces of your identity. Much like the social security number these numbers can wreck your life if they are lost. Once a criminal has these numbers the documents can be counterfeited. Counterfeited documents are a multi-million dollar criminal industry. Personal documents undergo major makeovers featuring new names, new faces and addresses and your numbers.
Health Insurance Account Numbers
Health insurance fraud is a growing crime in this country. This fraud can jeopardize not only your credit and finances but your life as well. Phony medical information can get mixed in with the legitimate records such as blood type and allergies and medications with deadly results. As for your credit, you could find yourself in an all out war with bill collectors and credit companies over bills that went unpaid because someone used your insurance fraudulently.
These numbers are your life. Its as simple as that. Black people need to focus on securing these numbers for themselves and their family. Know what information you release with every transaction and try to limit it as much as possible. The rules for privacy in today’s information age are made and enforced by you.
Now you know