Identity theft, even in 2010, although causing million$ of losses then, has progressed today into a full-fledged business run by extremely well organized groups that have the best possible technology available behind them. Thus, the warning that you will be hacked. The culprits no longer concentrate on the source of your personal data--the warehouses of names and private information--but rather the companies this data is out-sourced to like Target, Home Depot and your financial institutions. It is there where additional info is added that makes your personal records valuable and marketable.
Once hijacked, it is on the black market in less than 24 hours. Overnight your credit card or debit card could be compromised without you knowing it. Unless your bank or credit card issuer is on the ball and stops the transaction. Or you keep daily track of the activity. Of course your liability is limited here but the hassle of issuing new cards is a real pain and is very time consuming. It is no longer a question of if, only a question of when. And please don't be one of those, "It probably won't happen to me." It will.
Here's what I do regularly:
- Check our bank accounts for any illegal debit charges or other strange activity
- At least once weekly check credit card accounts for abnormal activity
- Three times each year run a credit report with each credit bureau to insure there are no new accounts added in your name or other strange transactions
For the best information available on how to prevent identity theft and what to do if it happens, go to these two sites: Privacy Rights Clearinghouse and Identity Theft Resource Center.