5 Surprisingly Easy Ways Your Identity Could Be Stolen

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Data Leaks

In the modern world, though, you don't have to actually be the person who loses your information, do you? We live in a wonderful world of technological convenience, but that world means that countless other companies now act as custodians of your personally-identifiable information, and those people can lose it for you -- and they often do. From credit card companies like Heartland to stores like Target and Home Depot, your information is being hemorrhaged at a terrifying rate. But don't think you can protect yourself by avoiding credit cards and online shopping. Our list of the worst data breaches in history includes government databases of voters in both the United States and in Mexico. So unless you're ready to renounce your citizenship and go live in a cave, there's not a lot you can do to prevent this.

 

There is a hierarchy to this information, however. The big worry is if you hear that social security numbers have been lost, like in the Anthem leak. That's the gold key that lets people do just about anything in your name. Time has a great breakdown of what types of data are the most sensitive, starting with your SSN, then moving down through your online passwords (change them quickly) your credit card number (it's pretty easy to reverse fraudulent charges nowadays), and finally, the rest of your personal information. The big danger from your other personal information, unfortunately, is that identity-stealing brigands can take the info that they do have and call financial institutions to get more, just like Abraham Abdallah did when he stole bank information for more than half of the Forbes 400.

Did you know...

  • Have you ever wondered who prints the most money? That would be Hasbro, as in the makers of Monopoly. Hasbro prints more Monopoly money in a given year than there is money in the entire world. Each set of the game comes with $20,580. Bet you didn’t know you had that much money lying around the house!
  • Do you know what the lifespan of U.S. currency is? The higher the denomination, the longer it stays in circulation. Both $50 and $100 bills last 9 years. The $20 sticks around for 4 years. $10 bills circulate for 3 years. The $5 bill has a 2-year lifespan, and the $1 bill only lasts around 18 months before being retired. Coins last around 30 years.
  • Paper money is actually pretty heavy. One pound would be worth $454 in $1 bills. That means $1 million comprised solely of $100 bills would weigh over 20 pounds. Those suitcases filled with money in movies must be hefty to lug around all that paper money. If you plan on robbing a bank, you better bulk up!
  • There are over 1.6 million automated teller machines around the world. And that really does mean the entire world. There are even two ATMs on Antarctica at McMurdo Station operated by Wells Fargo. Friday is the most popular day that ATMs are used worldwide, and the average withdrawal is around $80.
  • When it comes to counterfeiters, North Korea are pros. They have gotten so good at counterfeiting American currency (particularly the $50 and $100 bills) they their fakes are known as "superdollars." They require specialized Federal Reserve equipment to be identified. There are $45 million worth of North Korean fakes…that we know of.