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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 websitewww.accountkiller.com 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.

 

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 websitewww.accountkiller.com 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:

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?

When Consumers Get Smart, Scammers Get Smarter

March 16, 2017

So you think you’re pretty smart when it comes to scams. You know there is no wealthy Nigerian prince who needs money to escape – and there’s certainly no reward for sending him your hard-earned cash. You’re careful to not click on links or open attachments from email addresses you do not recognize. But as consumers become more aware, scammers become more savvy. They know we live online and on our phones, and they use both to get even the most wary individuals to fall for their scams. However, there are some steps you can take to avoid becoming a victim.

 

When it comes to phone scams, be smart with these tips:

Stay Calm and Trust No One: Protecting Yourself Against Scammers

March 16, 2017

Tax scams grab a lot of identity theft headlines, and for good reason: the Better Business Bureau (BBB) advises that 25 percent of reported scams in 2016 were related to tax issues. But there’s more than one way to scam a consumer, and scammers are constantly thinking up new and more sophisticated ways to lure in victims. According to the BBB, last year’s fastest growing scams included:

 

Online Purchase Scams

These may involve sites selling fake merchandise, as well as sites that aren’t selling anything at all. By the time your “designer” duds have arrived, or you realize you’ll never get what you paid for, the scammers have your money as well as your name, address and credit card information, which is what they are really after.

 

Employment Scams