Can You Really Protect Your Identity Online?

Can You Really Protect Your Identity Online?

Thank you to Brilliant for supporting PBS
Digital Studios. Did you hear the one about the IRS agent who
filed tax returns in other people’s names and collected hundreds of thousands of dollars
in stolen refunds? Oh, yeah, that’s a scary one! And how about that Australian woman whose
personal information was used to make a fake passport that implicated her in an international
assassination ring? That would be so freaky. Oh, and then there’s the one about the tenant
who used just a couple pieces of stolen mail to take out a dozen credit cards in her landlord’s
name– Stop! I don’t wanna hear anymore! They say on quiet nights, you can still hear
him arguing with a customer service representative… That’s not funny, Philip! Identity theft isn’t just a scary story,
it can happen to anyone. I mean with the Equifax and Facebook
hacks–we could be next! Shh! What’s that sound? Oh, stop. No really, it came from out there. AHHHH!!!! If you haven’t already fallen prey to some
kind of financial fraud, odds are pretty good that you will in your lifetime. A recent Bureau of Justice Statistics survey
found that 17.6 million Americans–or 7% of people over 16–will be a victim of identity
theft each year. The vast majority of these incidents are unauthorized
uses of credit cards or bank accounts, but these criminals will also use stolen info
to pay for medical treatments, intercept tax refunds, cash in airline miles, and set up
utilities like water and electricity. While the frequency of identity theft is alarmingly
high, the good news is that the monetary damage, for most people, is usually small. According to a study conducted by the Federal
Trade Commission, only 14% of identity-theft victims were not reimbursed for their loss. And only 7% suffered a loss of $100 or more. The bigger risk is the amount of time and
effort victims often have to spend to untangle their real identity from the fake one. A stolen credit card can usually be cleared
up in a few hours. But if a thief opens new accounts in your
name, it can haunt you for years. Some victims don’t even find out they’ve
been compromised until they start getting letters from collection agencies, or go into
a bank to open an account and find out they’ve already got one. And clearing your name can be a rabbit-hole
of bureaucracy. Lenders and credit agencies tend to demand
a lot of proof when you’re trying to get out of paying a debt, like passports, drivers
licenses, social security cards, birth certificates, police reports, signed affidavits–whew! If only they had those high standards when
the fraudsters were racking up the debt in the first place. And if your info was used to pay for hospital
fees or medications, your medical record might be mixed up with your identity thief’s! So not only could it be hard to get a mortgage
in the future, you might not be able to get health insurance! Thankfully, situations this extreme are pretty
rare. But the risk isn’t going away. If you’ve been watching the news in the
past year, you might’ve heard that there’s a whole lotta hackin’ goin’ on. Sony, Target, Equifax, Facebook… So many people have been compromised, it’s
not really a matter of if… it’s a matter of when. And that when can be way in the future. Things like your name, birthday and Social
Security number are evergreen. Hackers can sit on that info for decades before
deciding to use it. So, what can you do? Thankfully, the vast majority of banks and
credit cards offer zero-liability protection to account holders. Meaning you will be completely refunded if
you are victimized by fraud. That’s great for accounts you already have,
but what about new lines of credit someone could open in your name? The three major credit bureaus–Equifax, TransUnion,
and Experian–are required by law to provide you with a free credit report once a year,
and you’ll be able to see pretty quickly if there are accounts on there you don’t
recognize. You’ve probably also seen ads for companies
that will monitor your credit activity more closely for a monthly fee. Some even search the “dark web” to see
if your information is being bought or sold on the internet’s black markets. But most of these precautions are reactive–their
purpose is to alert you quickly once you’ve become a target. The only proactive thing you can do to protect
yourself is freeze your credit. Don’t worry, that doesn’t mean you have
to turn in your charge cards. Freezing your credit means no one will be
able to open new lines of credit in your name–even you. So if you don’t plan on applying for any
new loans in the near future, it might be a good idea. Surprisingly, even though two-thirds of respondents
to a recent poll said they were worried their identity had been compromised in last year’s
Equifax breach, only 19% reported taking any kind of precautionary steps–not even finding
out whether they were one of the victims. Maybe they were counting on technology to
protect them. Maybe they figure there’s safety in numbers. Or maybe they’re just too busy to worry
about a problem until it’s on their doorstep. One thing is certain: identity thieves have
a perfect victim in mind when they’re on the hunt. This person doesn’t keep a very close eye
on their account balances. They don’t ever check their credit report
or communicate regularly with their bank. This is a person who can be victimized for
years before even knowing it. So while you can never protect yourself 100%
from identity thieves, there’s no reason you should make it easy
for them. And that’s our two cents! It’s our mission at “Two Cents” to inspire you to be a lifelong learner, thinker, and problem solver. That’s why PBS Digital Studios is proud to be supported by Brilliant. Brilliant is an online platform designed to help you with hands-on practice for subjects like math, science, and technology. One of the best ways to learn these skills is by doing, not just observing. And with Brilliant you’ll be actively learning as you solve problems and work your way through guided tutorials. You can learn more at

100 Replies to “Can You Really Protect Your Identity Online?”

  1. Freezing your credit doesn't really work. I froze my account one year in March then opened a new loan in December with no extra questions or anything. That was a few years ago but still not a final solution. Everyone should review their credit report monthly.

  2. You guys have been consistent with the great quality of the content and topics of discussion. I've been learning a lot from your educational videos. Is there any possible way you guys could explain how the equity to the global GDP ratio is over 25 folds? Cause you guys mentioned the benefits of investing money in equities while to an extent disregarding the current volatility of several financial markets. And the impact that may have on a small investors money. Best wishes

  3. All the credit bureaus were required by law earlier this year to give you FREE credit freezes. No excuse not to do it now.

  4. Well, one way to solve this is to first of all not have Social Security card and have a proper ID instead. Not sure why the USA is still with that abysmal identity thingy.

    CGP Grey has a fantastic video going more into why this card is so bad.

  5. Being a victim of identity theft as of Friday and finding out they have been using my credit since September this video was really helpful in knowing I did what I could to protect my accounts. I called 15 places by the time I was done. It played out exactly how you described. Small increments. But my credit did drop from 720 to 611 because of a missed payment. I hope they rot in hell.

  6. Honestly not sure why I'm subbed to this channel, all I'm seeing is the absolute basics of the basics and even much of that doesn't apply to many people.

    I'm no expert on anything related to finances but unless your audience is meant only for 18yr olds who are just realizing mom won't be there for laundry anymore, I don't see this helping too many people.

  7. If a criminal steals your money from the bank your bank charges will have to cover it.
    The effect is you pay the money to the criminal, you just do it indirectly. They get your money and you are "reimbursed" with your own money.

  8. Their whole married couple thing adds so much charm to their videos, and then you figure out it's IRL too. Honestly awesome.

  9. This is great. I would recommend though you expound further on keeping online identity safe by educating people on how to avoid common ID theft schemes like social engineering, not posting your birthday and mother's maiden name on Facebook publicly, and etc.

  10. Yeah, now they have to dramatize their stories for people to understand, thats how sheepish they think people are. Hey Two Cents fuck you!

  11. Hey uh, this might not count as much coming from a guy with a screaming Yoda profile picture, but I really think that Y'all make some top-notch content and I hope to see more in the future.

  12. I see you guys making billions of profits soon from this Chanel. You guys clearly put so much effort! Good Job!

  13. I would like to know how much money you earn doing movies. You know… Zee movies (…! 🤦).
    Movies which require your musta… ehem… late 70s Germany-like pornstache à la Ryan Gosling …..

  14. Hey, can you make an episode about why American like to use credit cards instead of debit cards? Using debit cards means you use your own money, not a loan from the bank, way safer for your spending habit, and you won't lose much (only the amount you left in your account) in case someone steals your card.

  15. Always assume your information is out there. Lock your credit (it's free now) and keep it locked. Thaw it only when needed. Use disposable credit card numbers (or "virtual" credit card numbers if your credit card offers it), and lock your cards if you're not going to use them for a while. Many banks and credit cards allow you to do this from their website or app.

  16. I just found you guys but definitely going to be binge watching these videos
    I’ma highschool senior halfway through the year

    And there’s a lot 💀 we don’t learn in school

  17. I'd like to know more about state and federal municipal bonds, and other low risk investments (possibly timely during a sliding stock market). Really great job with these! Glad you're getting sponsors to help keep the quality so high.

  18. We have Aadhar Cards with digital biometric authentication on the spot in India to identify people with is impossible to impersonate , you can make a fake aadhar card but when you take that fake card to open a bank account and you punch your fingerprint immediately the representative will know its a fake aadhar and will not open your account. same goes with else where.

  19. Could you do a video on combining finances? I'm still figuring out shared accounts, bills, and whatnot with my partner, and trying to understand if it's worth changing the mortgage to have two people on it. I also know that a lot of people mention financial strain was a big problem in relationships. Might make a good Valentine's video 😉

  20. I believe there are ways to be proactive. Like don't save card info online, you don't know what company will be hacked. Don't have the same password, like your shopping account and then the same password for your notification account (email) and shred all your info from mail before you recycle the paper. Don't give out your bank account number use a card number instead.

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