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What Do Kim Kardashian and Michelle Obama Have in Common?

In 2013 Kim Kardashian, Kris Jenner, Ashton Kutcher, Paris Hilton, Joe Biden, Michelle Obama, Hillary Clinton, Bill Gates, Beyoncé, Mel Gibson, and FBI director Robert Mueller all became targets of identity theft, with Kris Jenner alone losing more than $70,000. Foreign hackers were able to steal the identities of 23 famous politicians, celebrities, and sports figures, including the aforementioned people, by hacking into the website www.annualcreditreport.com and getting access to their victims’ credit reports. These reports provided a treasure-trove of personal information that, in the hands of an identity thief, could cause serious harm to the people whose information was stolen. Instead of quietly using this information as most identity thieves would do, these hackers publicized the information on the Internet, which is where identity thieves obtained this information and used it to steal from these victims.

Why this is important to you is that the initial hacker was able to get into his victims’ credit reports due to a flaw in the authentication process at www.annualcreditreport.com. Without going into the details, the manner in which the security questions were set up made the system easy to crack, particularly when much of the information required to be furnished in order to answer the security questions and access the accounts could be found throughout the Internet. Certainly, public figures have much personal information available on the Internet for people to readily search out. You might think that you are not a public figure and that your personal information is not easily available, but think again. Too many people put too much personal information about themselves on social media, which then becomes fertile ground for someone trying to steal your identity. The lesson is that less is more. The less personal information you make available on social media, the more you protect yourself from identity thieves.

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