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Analog Theft Still Big for Identity-related Crimes

Think digital is only the culprit for identity theft? Think again.

Identity theft is usually associated with digital media – credit card fraud from card skimmers, electronic data breaches, stolen thumb drives, and phishing email scams seem to be the main culprits. According to a recent analysis, it’s analog files we need to be concerned about, as these are the main drivers in identity-related crimes.

The Center for Identity at The University of Texas found in its report, “2017 Identity Theft Assessment and Prediction Report,” that “50 percent of identity theft incidents analyzed between 2006 and 2016 resulted from criminals exploiting non-digital vulnerabilities.”

What is a non-digital vulnerability, exactly? It can be any document that contains identifying information, such as old tax returns, junk mail, and even empty prescription bottles.

“These new findings leave no doubt that criminals are taking advantage of nondigital vulnerabilities to cause significant financial, reputational and emotional distress for their victims and the organizations who hold their personally identifiable information,” said Suzanne Barber, director of the Center for Identity in a press statement. “Protection of sensitive personal identifiable information requires diligence across what we call the ‘ID360 of identity’ encompassing the technology, processes and people accessing, storing and using these valuable identity assets.”

Identity theft is scary to think about, but there are measures you can take to mitigate your risks.

Monitor your credit report.

You’re allowed a free credit report from each of the three major bureaus, Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.

Regularly shred sensitive information.

Hiring a professional shredding company can help you safely and properly dispose of documents that contain sensitive information, like bank records and even junk mail with credit offers.

As far as empty pill bottles and printed handouts, it is up to pharmacies and patients to securely and safely destroy the information. The easiest way to secure your information before destroying an empty pill bottle is to remove the label. It is recommended to then use a permanent marker on them, or scratch off your name and prescription number. Identity thieves can use this information in a number of ways if they get the information off a pill bottle in your trash.

Don’t assume that your identity can be stolen from digital media. Take the proper precautions to secure and destroy your analog files, too.

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