Why Your Computer Is A Target for Identity Theft And What You Can Do About It

Why Your Computer Is A Target for Identity Theft And What You Can Do About It

Noting that the U.S. Federal Trade Commission estimates as many as 10 million Americans have their identities stolen each year, the Intego Mac Security Blog’s Derek Erwin warns that while your computer is the keeper of your digital life, relied upon for storing a wide variety of personally identifiable information, that also makes you more vulnerable to identity theft. Erwin notes that a stolen computer is a proverbial gold mine for someone looking to steal a person’s identity, making it all the more important for you to protect both your computer and the personal or identifying information it contains

What sort of personal information is commonly found on a computer that leads to identity theft or fraud? How about:

  • Social security numbers
  • Credit card numbers
  • Passwords
  • Bank account numbers
  • Driver licenses
  • Birthdates
  • Phone numbers
  • Email addresses
  • Personal addresses
  • Passport numbers
  • Tax records
  • Employee records
  • Health data
  • PINs

And once thieves get a hold of this type of information, they can use it to commit the following crimes:

  • Identity theft
  • Employment-related fraud
  • Loan fraud
  • Credit card fraud
  • Phone or utilities fraud
  • Bank fraud
  • Government benefits fraud
  • Tax fraud

Erwin also cautions that while you may think your home computer is safer than your road warrioring laptop, regardless of which machine you use, personal information on any computer puts your identity at risk. For that reason, its important to remain vigilant of these dangers and practice security habits on both desktop computers and laptops, and that Intego’s newest security product, Intego Identity Scrubber, is like a digital safe for your valuables.

He explains that Intego Identity Scrubber was designed on the premise that you are carrying around a lot of very sensitive information on your computer, whether you know specifically what is there or not, noting that in a scan of what personal information was on his own, less than a year old work computer Identity Scrubber found nine social security numbers, 10 passwords, nearly 300 phone numbers, almost 10,000 email addresses, and 250 addresses – more personal data than he I ever imagined.

If your computer is misplaced or stolen, you can usually retrieve your data through backups, but you wont ever get it back from the bad guys. Identity Scrubber prevents identity theft by uncovering a variety of personal information and protecting it before it ends up in the wrong hands, finding files on your computer that contain personal information, like social security numbers, credit card numbers, addresses, passwords, bank account numbers, driver license numbers, birthdates, phone numbers, email addresses, passport numbers, and more. You can search your entire computer, run a custom file search, or just look for personal information within documents on your computer. In addition to scanning files on your computer, the program also scans emails and documents, and clearly shows all files containing identity information and what type of information is in each file. Once this information has been found, you can choose to encrypt, hide, or shred files containing personal data to quickly and easily remove all traces of your identity from your computer.

Erwin says one can think of Identity Scrubber as a cross between an information detective, a paper shredder, and a safe deposit box, and now that he’s aware of just how much sensitive personal information is hiding on his MacBook, he can use Identity Scrubber to destroy the information or encrypt it. That way, if the laptop were to end up in the wrong hands, the personal data has either already been removed or it has been pre-protected from cybercriminals getting access to it.

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