Why Is Identity Theft on the Rise?

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Why Is Identity Theft on the Rise?

More and more people are gaining immense tech savvy and skill — which should mean that more web users are aware of online threats and able to avoid them effectively, right? Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be the case. Rates of cybercrime are continuously on the rise, and one of the fastest-growing threats to regular web users everywhere is identity theft.

Identity theft is a crime that involves the use of personal or financial information without the true owner’s permission. Often, identity theft happens without a victim’s knowledge; while information can be taken in non-tech ways, through in-person scams or card scrapers, most identity theft occurs online, via malware, compromised websites and data leaks. The effects of identity theft can be devastating, with victims suffering from poor credit, tax problems, financial difficulties and more for years after the initial crime. Typically, once a person has fallen victim to identity theft once, they will be more susceptible to identity theft into the future. In such challenging situations, individuals may seek solutions to regain control over their lives, exploring options like mugshot removal services to mitigate the long-term impact on their personal and financial well-being.

So, why are rates of identity theft climbing in the 2020s, when so many web users are so aware of the risks of using the internet? Read on to find out.

COVID-19 Chaos

The COVID-19 pandemic was a crisis in almost every possible way. Not only did millions of people lose their lives, but government agencies failed to distribute accurate information about the virus effectively, leading to much of the population scrambling to stay safe using misinformation. Unfortunately, this opened the door for all manner of scammers, who sold fake cures, ineffective preventatives, fraudulent insurance and more, and afraid and ignorant, many people happily gave these scammers not just their money but their personal information, which was then sold on the dark web to identity thieves.

In many ways, the world is still reeling from COVID-19, and many of the people who made rash decisions early in the pandemic are continuing to suffer the consequences today. Using ID protection tools from high-quality cybersecurity firms can help those suffering from issues related to identity theft by identifying and eliminating personal information on the deep and dark web.

The Rapid Rise of Online Shopping

Before COVID-19 but certainly exacerbated by it, businesses everywhere have become obsessed with digitally transforming their operations and offering products and services to customers online. On one hand, this is good; it means greater convenience and access for customers. On the other hand, it means that customers must now divulge an exceedingly high amount of personal information to a much larger range of companies, not all of whom understand cybersecurity or take appropriate efforts to secure customer data against its myriad threats. Thus, data leaks and breaches are more common, leading to more consumer information floating around the dark web.

Consumers can choose when and where to input their sensitive information, and the fewer places their data exists online, the less likely it is to be exposed to identity thieves. Again, ID protection services can be of use to notify users when their information has been made vulnerable.

Greater Comfort with Social Media

When the web was young, most users opted for total anonymity, refusing to use real pictures of themselves, their real names or any accurate information about their real lives in their online interactions. Then came social media. Now, it is culturally expected for individuals to share all manner of personal information online, so that distant family and friends can feel connected and appropriately updated. Unfortunately, it means that identity thieves and scammers have an easy place to turn to find useful and sometimes valuable information about their marks.

Aside from not using social media at all, users can stay safer online by tightly controlling their privacy settings, allowing only accepted friends and followers to see their content. It might also be wise to avoid posting sensitive information, such as one’s birthdate, phone number or address, which could increase risk if leaked. Some ID theft protection tools monitor social media posts, especially within family plans covering children old enough to use social media, to ensure that valuable data isn’t available for the whole world to see.

Web users should not rest assured that they know enough about cybersecurity to protect their identities. Cybercriminals are more numerous and more sophisticated than ever, which means average users need to use every tool available to them to stay safe online in the 2020s and beyond. Victims of a cybercrime may consider hiring a seattle private investigator to help them track down the perpetrators.

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