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Abandoned Online Accounts

Identity Theft News

Abandoned Online Accounts

How many social networking websites do you participate in? How many sites are there where you have an account that you no longer use to socialize with others? Now consider two more questions, “What personal information of yours is stored within that account, even if it’s just the account profile?” and “What could happen if those abandoned accounts were breached by a hacker who then stole the data?”

Old online accounts have at least two vulnerabilities: They could be viewable by others and the database of the website could suffer a data breach.

When social networking first began, users were less aware than they are today of the need to restrict who could see their posted information. Someone viewing an old account of yours could potentially pick up data that would help them find information they could use elsewhere such as with answering security questions such as “Where were you born?,” “Where did you attend school?,” etc.

Data breaches suffered by social networking sites are becoming commonplace. Within just a six-month span of time in 2016, nearly one billion records from only four social networking or online dating sites were potentially accessed by hackers. A thief could take the user ID and password collected in a breach and then try it on other websites to see if the person who created the account used those same credentials on other accounts. Then they can collect personal information from that account as well or takeover the account and make use of it.

What can be done about old accounts?If you are no longer using an account, delete it if possible. If not possible, replace your personal information with random data so that the account is not useful to a potential identity thief. The is a valuable resource of directions for closing online accounts of all kinds. Also, by reviewing it’s extensive list of websites, you may be reminded of an old account you forgot that you created.

What to do going forward:

  • If you’ve been in the habit of using the same login credentials on all of your websites, change the passwords (or user ID and password, if possible) so that you use different credentials for each account.
  • Keep a list of the accounts you create online so you know where you information is online.
  • Be particular about what personal information you add to your accounts. Every question doesn’t need to be answered in your account profile.
  • Set privacy and security settings to have some control over who can see your data.
  • Use backup email addresses on every account so that if you lose access to the primary email because of a job change or switch in email service provider, you can still access the account.


WannaCry Ransomware

May 16, 2017

Over the past 72 hours, a massive ransomware attack occurred affecting businesses, government organizations, and individuals in well over 100 countries. The ransomware – called WannaCry (also called WannaCrypt) – encrypts the victim’s hard drive and demands a ransom, paid in the virtual currency bitcoin, equivalent to approximately US$300. Kroll strongly recommends organizations and individuals take action to reduce your risk and prepare for inevitable future similar attacks.


What is Ransomware?

Ransomware is a type of malware; once executed on a computer system, it seeks to encrypt a wide range of files, denying the user access, and effectively holding the files “hostage” in return for a monetary payment – a ransom. It prevents users from accessing their computers, files, or mobile devices by holding them for ransom. Users are typically expected to pay high ransom amounts to get access back to their data. Many times, the ransomware will falsely claim that the user has committed a crime with their computer, and that they are being fined by the police department or a government agency.


U.S. Government Data Shows Healthcare Breaches Up 320%

May 11, 2017

Check the pulse of your personal healthcare information


When you visit your physician or a healthcare facility, the last thing on your mind is the personal information you are required to share. Where is it going? Who sees your information? What could happen to it? Healthcare providers collect personal data ranging from your name and date of birth, to credit card numbers, medical insurance numbers (which may include your Social Security number), diagnosis information, prescriptions, and medical history.


Providers are required to store this information securely, but data thieves know how valuable your personal information is. Despite healthcare providers’ best efforts, they often fall victim to data breaches. That puts your protected health information (PHI) in the hands of hackers and thieves who may use it themselves or sell it for others to use to execute a variety of schemes and crimes.


IDShield Investigator Insights: Social Media

April 20, 2017

Sharing on Social Media Today Can Impact Your Future

Many of us can’t remember life before social media. How did we make it through the day without our friends telling us how they were feeling or posting pictures of what they had for lunch?


While it seems like social media sites have been around forever, the first, Six Degrees, launched only 20 years ago, making social media a relatively new means of staying in touch. As social animals, our desire to connect with others is great, and social media, along with the proliferation of mobile devices, makes it easy to do. Since we like to think we can trust our friends, it’s easy to let our guard down when we’re commenting on a Facebook post or sharing vacation photos on Instagram.


IDShield Investigator Tips: Social Media

April 20, 2017

When It Comes to Staying Safe on Social Media, Listen to Your Mother

Twenty-one percent of adult internet users have had an email or social media account compromised.1 Applying some old-fashioned words of wisdom to our modern online lives can help prevent it from happening to you. Here are some tips from the Investigators at Kroll:


“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

Danger Lurks Where Technology Intersects Public Safety

April 13, 2017

It’s 3 a.m., and you are awakened by the sounds of sirens blaring outside. All of the cell phones in your house start to chirp, and when you look down, you see an emergency notification with a warning to evacuate immediately. The alert says to head north and that all major roads will be used as one-way streets to enable a rapid evacuation. Twenty miles north of your town the same thing is happening, except in this case, the warning is telling everyone that they should head south.

Simple Steps to Protect Yourself Against Identity Theft

March 17, 2017

Despite the fact that the U.S. Director of National Intelligence ranked cybercrime as the No. 1 national security threat, very few Americans take real steps to protect themselves, their family and their businesses against identity theft.

As the head of a company that helps consumers protect themselves from this issue, I've become increasingly aware of its perils, and how it impacts millions of people each year. I see identity theft as a growing epidemic that warrants immediate action. There are a number of simple steps to take, and some may seem obvious, but many people choose not to address the issue with preventive measures. How often do you back up personal and corporate computers, check your credit report and statements, or update your virus protection software?