Disney launched its video streaming service Disney+ in November 2019. Within one week, thousands of user accounts were up for grabs in online hacker forums. At first glance, the theft of a user name and password combination for a kids’ streaming service may not seem significant. What could anyone possibly do with that data aside from watch reruns of Rugrats?
Shady characters in the dark corners of the internet are willing to pay for these innocent-looking user credentials because they represent a vulnerability in your data security. Many consumers use the same login credentials across multiple platforms. A hacker can automate a program to run your Disney+ login information through every other account you may interact within less time than it takes you to change your password. These programs simulate natural logins, so they rarely set off alarms. By the time you realize you’ve been hacked, your online identity is no longer your own.
How can I protect myself from identity theft?
1. Use unique login credentials for each account you maintain.
Convenience is your enemy when it comes to security. If it’s convenient for you to remember one set of credentials for all of your accounts, it’s even more convenient for a hacker to use those two pieces of information to access every corner of your online world. On the other hand, if it’s inconvenient for you to remember unique credentials for each of your accounts, you’re going to be too much of a hassle for most hackers. You can strike a balance by using a password manager like LastPass to safeguard all of your unique data and make it easy for you to access.
2. Exercise caution in how you share your personal information.
In the past, you only had to worry about protecting your property from theft. Today, your personal data is also up for grabs. Everything has a price tag on the dark web, including loyalty account data, medical records, and credit card information. Exercise extreme caution when providing information to anyone via website forms, email, text, phone, or mail and confirm, and avoid sharing personal information on social media.
3. Properly dispose of documents that contain personal information.
Identity theft doesn’t just happen online. Criminals can make use of abandoned receipts, credit card offers, and other personal documents if they’re not discarded properly. Shred any physical documents that contain personal information, and check your mailbox daily to prevent important statements and offers from falling into the wrong hands.
4. Track online accounts and monitor activity.
Most modern consumers have dozens of forgotten online properties: old email, social media, and forum accounts. These abandoned properties can pose a threat to your personal information, so it’s a good idea to find and close unused accounts. Moving forward, track of your new online accounts in a central location, like a password manager. Check-in with accounts regularly to spot any unusual activity that may indicate a breach.
5. Respond to identity theft promptly.
If you are a victim of identity theft, the Federal Trade Commission recommends filing a complaint at identitytheft.gov and contact one of the three major credit bureaus to place a ‘fraud alert’ on your credit records. If you discover accounts have been opened by an identity thief, close them and notify the appropriate authorities.
If you’re concerned you may be the victim of identity theft or tax fraud, contact the Law Offices of Jeffrey Lohman. Our attorneys are capable of providing knowledgeable counsel on matters related to consumer protection.