It is amazing how many companies and organizations have our personal data on file. Most of us hand over sensitive personally identifiable information like our name, address, telephone number, Social Security number, medical records, credit card number, driver’s license number, and financial information without even thinking about it, as long as the recipient seems to have a legitimate reason for requesting it. But what happens when a business, school, or organization does not properly protect vital personal information? It turns out that in many cases, careless individuals simply throw out sensitive files in open dumpsters, making them a prime source of identity theft threats.
While the malicious hacking grabs the headlines, the fact is that mundane carelessness, not malice, is frequently the reason why individuals are exposed to the threat of identity theft. There are cases reported by identity theft prevention experts every month of data breaches that are the result of simple human error. A fitness company goes out of business and dumps boxes of customer files into the dumpster behind the gym. The full names, addresses, and even credit card numbers of all of their former customers are then available for the taking by anyone who happens by the trash receptacle. In another recent case, a staffing agency closed its doors and carelessly threw out all of their files without first shredding personal data. Now the job seekers are being advised to seek identity theft protection services in case their Social Security numbers were compromised.
Improperly handled medical and educational records can also expose individuals to becoming a potential victim of identity theft. A data breach occurred earlier this year when a medical office neglected to pay their storage rental fees. The contents of their storage facility, which happened to be boxes of patient records, were auctioned off. The auction winner apparently cleaned out the storage unit by throwing the file boxes into a dumpster. An unknown number of people had their medical records and Social Security numbers land in the trash, where anyone could find them. In another data breach, a cleaning crew inadvertently disposed of private student financial documents in an open dumpster. Without intending to, they exposed the students to the risk of identity theft. Given growing concerns over thieves targeting the identities of minors, affected families may wish to consider extending their identity theft protection services to cover their children as well.
As a consumer, patient, or student, it is very hard to do anything to avoid becoming exposed to the risk of identity theft due to the carelessness of others. One recommendation from identity theft protection specialists is to attempt to retrieve your file from your gym or other company if you learn they are closing their doors. Identity theft prevention experts state that it may also be sensible to sign up for identity theft protection services to monitor your credit report, bank accounts, and other financial services for any sign that your personal data has been compromised.
For more information on the latest identity theft threats, visit http://www.identitytheftlabs.com/. They are a trusted source of expert reviews on all of the top identity theft protection services, including LifeLock, Identity Guard, and Trusted ID. Consumers can contact the security specialists at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn how an identity theft service can help protect them from being one of the over 8 million Americans annually who are faced with the devastating effects of identity theft.
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