Identity theft has always been a major concern for consumers. Everyone is susceptible to the financial turmoil associated with identity theft. As Robert from Massachusetts discovered, a lifetime of savings can be wiped out in the blink of an eye.
Robert had no idea someone was infiltrating his bank account until he received an email from Charter Bank in November of 2017. The email thanked him for changing his security codes. But Robert never changed anything. After hijacking his identity, the thieves went straight for his bank account. When checking his accounts, Robert discovered the identity thieves recently cashed a check for $153,000 in Florida. His home equity line of credit had been wiped out. The local authorities could do nothing about the crime and the bank was not able to immediately verify it wasn't him.
"All of the work is on the victim, to prove their innocence, to prove their identity, to regain their name and their reputation back," says Milagros Johnson, director of the Springfield Office of Consumer Information. "No one can do it for them but themselves, and that's very frustrating." Most people keep the basic information necessary to make changes to an account on their personal computers. Safeguarding this information is paramount. Stealing someone's identity is easy. All it takes is the wrong click on a sketchy link within a seemingly harmless email. Suddenly, malicious software, also known as malware, or viruses are installed on your hard drive. The hard drive is a holy grail of personal data for identity thieves.
Dealing with the aftermath of police reports, credit bureaus, and banks can be a constant uphill struggle. This puts protecting personal information directly into the hands of consumers. Everyone should educate themselves on home computer security and best practices for browsing the Internet. It's the main difference between worry-free personal computing or losing $153,000.