You’re standing in line at Target, and it’s Armageddon as usual. As you wait for the ten customers ahead of you to scan and purchase, you check your Facebook and find the item you’ve been eying is finally on sale! Score. You click, log in, and since your favorite store already has your credit card information saved, your purchase is a breeze. By the time you receive your confirmation email, it’s time to pull out your debit card and swipe for your Target loot. These types of multifaceted transactions are more common than ever. Convenience is at our fingertips, we have nearly constant access to the internet, and we have more ways to pay than most of us could have fathomed fifteen years ago. But with all these amazing changes have come new challenges, especially in terms of cybersecurity. Identity theft is the criminal use of an individual’s personal identification information (PII). Identity thieves steal PII such as your name, social security number, driver’s license information, bank and credit card accounts, and use that information to establish credit, make purchases, apply for loans, or even seek employment.
Identity theft isn’t a new phenomenon; in fact, recorded instances of identity theft date back to the dark ages.1 However, the face of identity theft has changed dramatically, evolving with the technology and economic landscape that surrounds it. Understanding your exposure and staying informed of the trends and methods that thieves use to steal from you is the first step in a strong defense against identity theft.