The problem with modern technology is that we are far too trusting when it comes to our personal information—and at what cost?
The failure to encrypt and safeguard your personal information online can result in online theft of your money, identity, and can also render you unemployable if the wrong information is leaked online.
Scarily enough, these are only some of the scary repercussions of leaking personal information, so keep reading to find out more!
10 Creepy Reasons To Guard Your Privacy Online
1. Identity Theft
For most people, the idea of identity theft seems like a foreign concept that only happens to people on TV.
However, identity theft has happened to more than 16 million people every year and the numbers continue to rise as hackers become more skilled.
If someone steals your identity they can quite literally do whatever they want using your name, whether it’s theft, to make illegal purchases, or tax fraud (the list goes on)!
The problem is that authorities don’t know that this isn’t actually you, which means that your online reputation can be permanently destroyed.
In an effort to prevent this, it’s always important that you follow the below protocols:
- Never dish your personal information out to anyone over the phone, regardless of who they claim to be.
- Never open strange email links without first clarifying with the sender that they are who they claim.
- Avoid carrying your ID/Social Security card with you (unless absolutely necessary).
- Clear old computers and cellphones of all your data before throwing them away.
2. Safeguarding Your Freedom Of Thought
Have you ever Googled something and suddenly found an array of pop-ups suggesting where you can buy it on your news feed?
This is because your actions online are always being tracked, and this includes your interests, thoughts, political views, and much more.
That said, if you knew that you were being listened to during a private conversation, how would you speak and behave?
Chances are, you would probably filter your thoughts and opinions appropriately, as you wouldn’t want to be seen as disagreeable or “crazy.”
The same principles should apply online. While it’s perfectly okay to have your own thoughts and opinions, this shouldn’t be broadcasted online for everyone to see.
If you’re not careful, this can be used against you in your career or personal life, and it’s very hard to remove data off the internet once it’s there.
That said, always make sure that you put your social media on private and always turn off ad tracking and block third party ad-tracking cookies.
Not sure how to do this? Learn how to here.
3. Avoiding Account Fraud
Account fraud and hacking is becoming increasingly prevalent, with the numbers rising every year.
The scary thing is, everyone is a potential victim. Hackers are so advanced that they can make duplicate copies of banking apps that are incredibly convincing.
Once you download them, you are prompted to enter your login details. This is where the hackers are able to use your login information to steal your money!
To avoid this, always take note of the download count of an app. If it seems unusually low, then this is likely an imposter account.
As a general rule, you should also never download apps from third-party sites as they have a much higher chance of containing malware.
Additional steps that you can take to avoid account fraud include the following:
- Always use strong passwords and don’t use the same one for multiple accounts.
- Use a two-factor authentication app.
- Always download the latest security updates.
- If you have a poor memory make use of a password manager to help you remember more complex passwords across various apps.
- Always keep up to date with security updates when prompted.
4. Your Data Is Worth More Than You Think
Have you ever wondered why so many cool apps are free? Well, this is because you actually are being charged for it, but not in the ways you originally thought!
As a general rule, free services often mean that the data you provide them with is worth something to them. The scary part is, what exactly are they doing with it?
According to Medium.com, “If you’re not paying for something, you’re not the customer; you’re the product being sold”.
Now if that isn’t a sobering thought, I don’t know what is!
5. The Future Is Uncertain
On the topic of sobering thoughts, we have absolutely no idea who or what entity will be in control in decades time.
Will your data fall into the hands of the good or evil?
Sadly, there is absolutely no way of ever being certain (unless you can see into the future)!
If politics take a turn for the worst, there would be absolutely no way of controlling what happens to your data in the wrong hands.
Data can be very easily breached online and this happens all the time!
If you’re still not convinced, take a look at the astounding number of data breaches that have taken place over the years here.
6. Phishing Scams
As phishing scammers become more savvy at what they do, it’s become increasingly difficult to spot suspicious messages and scams.
While it used to be relatively obvious, now scammers are able to hack into the accounts of sellers and act on their behalf, essentially stealing money from buyers.
This is why it is so important that you first verify with companies or solicitors before you simply open email links and transfer funds.
One simple follow-up could be the difference between you losing a huge amount of money or having your information compromised!
7. Sim Swapping
This is yet another common tactic used by hackers to gain access to your sensitive information, and they don’t even need your phone to do it!
Essentially, hackers can contact your service provider and request a sim swap by answering the security questions accurately.
They can do this if you have allowed your personal information to be leaked online, such as your ID number, email address, phone number, and name and surname.
Once complete, they can forge ahead and have your number stripped from your sim to theirs, allowing them to surpass any security SMS codes with ease.
Scarily enough, they can then log into your banking apps and go crazy with your funds, which is definitely not something you want to happen!
8. Child Theft
Probably one of the most chilling reasons to watch what you share online is the safety of your children.
The internet is one of the most common places that children are targeted, and very often parents lead abductors straight to the child when they post seemingly innocent photos and locations.
Scarily enough, it’s not only abductions that parents need to be worried about! A child’s identity can also be stolen for criminal activities.
In fact, children’s identities are perfect for theft as kids have perfectly clean records. This means that criminals can open up bank accounts in their name and take loans (amongst other things)!
This means that when a child gets older and wants to take out a student loan or apply for their first credit card, they end up getting declined.
Disturbingly, they may also find themselves in millions of dollars of debt before the age of 21, without having spent a cent.
So, what’s the general takeaway? Keep your children’s pictures, location, and personal information off the internet!
Another horrific form of cyber crime is known as sextortion. Essentially, this is when hackers gain access to your personal files that contain some very private images and threaten to extort these for money.
If this makes you blush just thinking about it, you’re right to think so! Hackers can use these images to blackmail you into sending them money while they threaten you.
They may threaten to send nude photos to family members, bosses, colleagues, and partners if you don’t pay up their desired sum of cash.
This disturbing trend has been on the rise, and can destroy reputations and mental health for life.
To prevent this, always encrypt private files if you must keep them on your device.
That said, it’s always safest to avoid taking these types of images in the first place, as they always pose a risk in the wrong hands!
10. Your Boss Knows More Than You Think
Have you ever wondered why you haven’t been called back for any interviews lately?
While I’m not saying this is always the case, posting content online that is controversial or overly offensive could cost you that job you’ve always wanted.
Almost every company runs background checks nowadays, and this includes your Instagram and Facebook accounts.
This is why it is important to watch what you post at all times, and most importantly, keep your settings on private!
As a rule, the only people that should be able to see what you post are your close friends and family
Almost every single person in the world has personal information leaked online that they are not aware of, and the problem is only growing.
While it is true that some things are out of your control, the onus does fall on you to do what you can from your side to protect your personal information.
Remember to never share sensitive data with people you don’t know, and never open files or links that you aren’t familiar with.
It’s always better to be safe than sorry!