Electronic privacy is more than simply trying to protect your anonymity. In the wrong hands, your private information could be used to wreak all kinds of havoc, both on yourself and others. Ill cover just a few examples of the types of things that hackers and thieves will do if they manage to obtain your personal information.
Identity theft is a common problem for individuals who have had their personal information stolen. If criminals have obtained your social security number and a few other details, they can seriously damage you financially. Your social security number can be used to apply for loans or credit cards in your name, and you can bet that the thieves wont be paying them off. This can cause your credit rating to tank, and you might not realize it is happening right away. Even once you uncover the fraudulent activity, it can take some time for it to be removed from your credit report. Additionally, it is incredibly difficult to get the social security administration to issue you a new social security number, so once it has been stolen, you are going to be in for a frustrating and protracted fight to maintain control over your identity.
Identity thieves can also do things like steal your tax return. If they file a fraudulent return using your information, this could cut you off from your rightful return. Aside from protecting your information, the best thing you can do here is to file your taxes early on. If you file early and receive your refund, then they aren’t going to be mailing you ( or your impersonator) another one. Therefore, taking the time to make sure that your private information is protected from those who would seek to use it for crime is critical for anyone using computers.
Identity thieves can also do things like steal medical benefits. They could undergo treatment using your social security number, which is not only unethical, but potentially life threatening. Doctors will look at your medical history before treating you, and if your medical history has some false entries, it could be fatal. Not only medical benefits are stolen though, identity thieves will frequently file for unemployment using stolen social security numbers.
These things are just the tip of the iceberg as far as cyber criminals are concerned. Hopefully, by now I have convinced you how important it is to secure your information and privacy. In my next post, I will discuss several ways that you can actively protect yourself.