Having your identity stolen is an unnerving, stressful experience. According to a recent study from consumer site ID Analytics, there are a few factors that make you more likely to be a victim of fraud.
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In their Online Privacy Vs Security study, the company analysed 100,000 records of people who never experienced identity theft and those who had. They looked at their online presence and found that, in general, people who shared the most about themselves were four times more likely to experience fraud than those who shared the least. They found three factors to be a predictor of fraud:
- The number of social sites a person used
- The number of websites where their personal info was public
- The number of past addresses found for that person
As Credit.com points out, the old “correlation vs causation” argument could apply here, but the findings are also not terribly surprising. They write:
It’s not clear why having numerous addresses associated with your identity might make you a more likely victim of fraud, though it’s easy to speculate. The more old addresses, the easier it is for a criminal to use one unnoticed, for example…It is possible, however, to limit the number of social networks and websites where you post information about yourself. “The consumer message is: Be thoughtful about what you post,” Coggeshall said.
It also just helps to simply be aware of the potential risks of having too much information out there. Aside from guarding that personal info, you also want to check your credit report at least once a year to ensure that there’s no unauthorised activity.