Stolen or compromised Social Security numbers paired with other personally identifiable information (PII) form a dangerous combo in the hands of identity thieves.
Identity theft is one of the fastest-growing crimes in the US, claiming around 15 million victims every year in the US, according to the latest reports. Your PII is extremely valuable to fraudsters who make a living by taking advantage of you and your data.
Before we delve into the various ways cybercriminals can exploit exposed data and personal information, let’s take a closer look at how fraudsters can get ahold of your Social Security number and other info:
- Stealing wallets, purses and your mail, such as credit card statements and tax information
- Stealing personal information you provide via an unsecured platform
- Cyberattacks and data breaches
- Dumpster diving or rummaging through your trash or public trash dumps for personal data
- Buying personal information from rogue employees
- Phishing emails or imposter phone calls
Social Security numbers should be kept under lock and key, and you should always use caution when sharing them, especially if the request comes via email, phone call or other forms of online communications.
Once malicious actors get your information, whether from a data breach or phishing attack, they can:
- Open credit cards and take out loans in your name
- Intercept your tax refund
- File for unemployment benefits
- Open or upgrade services for water, gas, electricity, internet, cable and other services
- Receive medical treatment and health insurance
- Avoid criminal responsibility, arrest and legal issues
If you suspect that someone is using your Social Security number or other personal data to defraud you or hurt your identity, immediately report it to police, and financial and government institutions.
You should also be on the lookout to secure any security or privacy loopholes you may not yet be aware of, and be proactive in limiting possible financial damages.
Bitdefender Ultimate Security, our all-inclusive security and privacy service, is designed to take care of both your devices and data and stand guard over your personally identifiable information and finances with an exhaustive list of identity theft protection features including 24/7 data breach monitoring, credit score management, lost wallet assistance and much more.
Our Identity Theft protection plan keeps you in the know and lets you limit financial losses associated with identity crimes, giving you peace of mind with $1 million in identity theft insurance and a dedicated resolution specialist to help you navigate the murky waters of recovering your identity.
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