Your personal information is most likely out there for criminals to use.
Did you call Equifax? Did they say your information was likely not compromised?
Don’t believe them. I get this from internationally renowned cyber security expert Josh Marpet, who suggests we should all freeze our credit so no one opens up a bunch of credit cards in our names. You may have read about some of his exploits, such as using his skills to prove Recep Erdogan, the prime minister of Turkey, was taking bribes.
He has revelations for those of us not immersed in issues like everyday surveillance of U.S. citizens. ALPR cameras, E-ZPass transponders, and aggregated CCTV video watch you a lot more than you realize.
ALPR? What’s that?
Automatic License Plate Recognition systems read license plates on both the left (oncoming traffic) and right (parked cars, or the next lane over) sides of the car. It can be done at over 75 miles per hour, picking up EVERY car it goes by. Law enforcement uses it to get people who are wanted (warrants), scofflaws (didn’t pay those tickets, did you?), and to identify stolen cars.
Private firms buy those cameras too, drive along the mall parking lot, and down suburban neighborhoods, selling the database of when the car with license plate XYZ was at what house.
If your divorce attorney is any good, they’ll call those companies, and ask if your spouse’s car was ever near that “other person’s” house.
Repo firms buy access to the database. Private investigators and attorneys buy access.
Does your car have an E-ZPass? It gets scanned at toll booths, right? Well, it gets scanned a lot more than that.
A friend opened his transponder and attached a little LED light that would blink whenever the transponder is “read” or “recorded.” The blinking was incessant all over town.
In New York City, authorities use them to gauge traffic, understand the flow of people into and out of the city, and adjust police and fire accordingly. It also allows for tracking of a specific vehicle.
But that’s all outside the house, and related to my car. I’m safe inside, just playing on the computer, right?
Because Facebook is free, they have to make their billions of dollars somehow. So they sell ads to advertisers. And the more the advertiser knows about you, and the more closely the ad is targeted, the more Facebook can charge.
So they collect data.
When you signed up, you gave them the right to do so.
In some areas, you can legally request a copy of all the data Facebook, Google, any site or social media entity, has on you. Don’t be surprised when you get many, many binders back.
When you “Like” something, or post a political opinion or “friend” someone from high school, it all makes connections. You like bananas, Libertarians and lived in Somerville, NJ in high school. Your music tastes run to Jazz and alternative and only Olga bras fit you well.
How many of your relatives put pictures on Facebook, and schedule family reunions with a Facebook event?
Tweeting to keep in touch with your old bandmates, and putting pics of your dog on Instagram, while snapchatting to your school group, is the new normal. Information is power.
And we all just give it to social media networks, in exchange for games based around farms, the ability to schedule “Girls Night Out!!!”, and laughing at the bad picture of your college roommate who fell asleep in the booth at the diner that night.
So, every one of these events you “touch” becomes a prospective advertisement, putting your or your child’s face next to the ad on the screen of their Facebook “friends.” Yes, it’s creepy.
There are initiatives working to get people compensated for using their data. Until that happens, use caution with the data you put out there. Those ridiculous games, where your rock star name is the street you grew up on, and the name of your first dog? Sounds like your banking security questions don’t they?
That’s because they are.
Stealing your identity is easy when you give hackers the answers.
— Rick Jensen is an annoying, award-winning Delaware talk show host and equally annoying national columnist. Email Rick@DBCMedia.com.