Identity Theft and Facebook

Identity theft is the fastest growing crime in America. In 2010, the total loss attributed to identity theft was $13.2 billion. In 2012, the loss was $21 billion.

According to the FFC, the number of identity theft incidents has reached 9.9 million a year, about 19 every minute. Even worse, studies show that it’s becoming more common for someone close to the victim to be the thief. In 32% of identity theft cases, a family member or relative was responsible for stealing the identity. Another 18% were victimized by friend, neighbor, or in-home employee. The average loss per incident is $4,930.

burglarThe moral of the story is, be careful about giving out personal information. If someone calls you asking for such information, be very suspicious. If you make the call, such as to your bank, it’s probably okay (and necessary) to give out the information.

Just as important is to be careful what you post on Facebook and other sites. So many security questions that institution and various sites ask, such things as mother’s maiden name, the name of your first pet, or the street you grew up on, are routinely mentioned on FB, and con artists can use such information to gain access to your life. (Only 28% of identity theft cases involve credit or financial fraud. Phone, utility, bank and employment fraud make up another 50% of the cases.)

And of course, you know that you’re supposed to use passwords and PIN numbers that are not easy to guess or are not recorded anywhere.

One thing no one mentions is “liking” pages on Facebook or even off Facebook. I’ve liked things and then never been able to unlike them, and forever after, those products or programs are linked to me. “Liking” has become entwined in the whole marketing milieu, letting your friends and fans (and potential victimizers) know more about you than you ever wanted them to know.

Of course, I have nothing of any monetary value, so I doubt anyone would ever care to steal, but still, I try to be careful.

Makes me wonder — what if someone had their identity stolen, and it turned out to be a good thing for them. Could be an interesting story.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

7 Responses to “Identity Theft and Facebook”

  1. rami ungar the writer Says:

    Doesn’t surprise me that the victims of identity theft are people we know. Most other crimes–like murder or rape–are by people who are acquainted with the victims. It’s rarely actually random.

  2. Lisette Brodey Says:

    Nice blog, Pat. One thing I would suggest is to just make up a name for “mother’s maiden name.” That way, it doesn’t matter if someone can figure out what it was; it’s not the name you have on record. I think it’s especially necessarily in these times because it’s a rather old-fashioned question. Nowadays, many women don’t change their names at all or hyphenate them, so maiden names are hardly a secret.

    Using a company like Lifelock can also give one great peace of mind because they’ll stop identity thieves from doing anything in your name.

    Scary world out there. Technology has a huge downside for every upside.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Lisette, good suggestions! Thank you. For myself, I only post things online that I want everyone to know about. I tend to steer clear of identifying info, such as where I am staying, family, birthdate, etc. Makes things a whole lot easier! I have made up answers to the questions, even when they ask such things the name of my first pet or something else there is no way anyone could know.

      Definitely a scary world, online or offline!

  3. Clarissa Brooks Says:

    I can’t say I have ever heard a happy ending to a person who has had their identity stolen. It’s not something most people even worry about but its happening more and more these days. And it’s not even to just people, it’s companies and organizations too that are getting their “lives” hacked, shifted through, and destroyed. Hackers always seem to eventually find a way into any companies network security architectures forcing continual updating and changing. It amazes me.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      You’re right, it’s never a good thing for someone to have their identity stolen. It takes forever to put everything right, and sometimes people or their their credit ratings are damaged beyond repair.

      For fictional purposes, however, what if the person who’s identity got stolen was a criminal, someone the cops were after? The hacker could go to prison for that crime, while the criminal could get off free. Or maybe a woman had been abused, and she used the confusion of the theft to run off? Silly examples, I know, for what is never a silly crime.

  4. Debbie Williams Says:

    Really interesting post! You might be interested in this Facebook simulation hacking tool I found http://www.protectyourprofile.org. It’s very realistic but completely a simulation developed by an ID theft prevention company.

  5. Lisa researching identity theft Says:

    I check my credit card and bank history at least once a day and my credit reports regularly to try and protect myself.


I'd love to hear what you have to say.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: