For all of you wondering how your data gets into the hands of someone you didn't want it to, it's being sold and stolen.
In 2017, Equifax handed over the credit records of 1.5 million Americans
. If you want to put it into another frame of mind, the credit reporting agencies are private companies that somehow managed to retrieve and store all of your private credit data without you ever approving of it
. It's not a government agency and nobody ever willingly allowed them to do it. These companies store everything about any transaction having to do with your name, address, SSN or with transactions that can be tied to it(your daughter opened a bank account while living at home but moved to college. They can determine this exact scenario based on the bank account having records of school purchases and a change of address).
Yahoo mail's entire 3 billion user accounts hacked
Seriously. 3 billion. That 3 billion "private" email accounts that had been placed into the hands of bad actors. Think of how much data your email accounts hold. Then multiply that amount by 3 billion(here's that in zeros: 3,000,000,000 ). Pause for shudder.
Facebook's latest breach exposed data of over half million users
. "HA!" you say, "I'm not dumb enough to have a FB account! Those dumb bastards deserve to lose their information!" Well, I've got some bad news for you, smart guy.... you're one of those dumb enough to still be giving FB your information. Want to know how? Why, by visiting a website exactly like FSB! That's right, even though you might have never registered an account on FB, FSB uses Facebooks services (advertising, analytics, like buttons) which allows FB access to all the data that is passed through your browser. That data is then combined from all of the billions of sites that use the same FB systems and that data is bundled together, combined with user data purchases from other systems and sold to everyone willing to buy it. Take a moment and think about every site you visit, everything you type and every link you click then imagine that being in a single ball of data. Then imagine this not only getting sold to people you never intended to see it but imagine it also being given away to people that steal it by the millions of users.
Google! - It's like FB above but larger by orders of magnitude . The number of pies they have their fingers in is just mind boggling. If you have a Android smart phone, gmail account, onboard mapping software, newer vehicle with Android auto, use the Chrome browser or OS, their search engine, visit sites using their analytics, etc, then they have a full profile on you. That data gets used in any way you can imagine.
How about terms of service you never actually read? Those pretty much always state that any information you provide to them can be "shared" with "affiliates". That means they sell your data to anyone and everyone that's willing to buy it, good or bad. This can be done at the website you visit, at Lowes when you get your 10% military discount, use your Ingles discount card, use your bank debit card, even when you pay a visit to your doctor. In pretty much every scenario you can imagine, your
data is manipulated in any way that result in more money.
This could go on forever but we've got our high points. My point isn't to depress anyone but to let you know why you can't trust anyone, regardless of what information they have about you. If someone were to call you and state that they were from your bank, naming the bank, confirming where you live, your phone number, the last four of your social, and your bank debit card number, it would sound official but all it really means is they got hold of your Experian data after it was taken and distributed on the dark web.
We live in a world in which private data is no longer a thing which means the way you used to handle transactions has to change as well. If you're dealing with a sales pitch of any kind, start out assuming that they are trying to steal from you and let them try to prove to you that they're not.
If it's a contact from someone stating they represent your bank, the FBI, your credit card, etc., simply ask them for the number to call them back, then hang up and search that phone number on the web. If it doesn't return as a phone number linked to the agency in question, you know it's a scam. even if it does
, call the number you have on record for the agency and let them know about the call you got.