If a Hacker Steals Your Identity Are You Still You? Part 2

If a Hacker Steals Your Identity Are You Still You? Part Two

By Charles McCain

Originally appear on Cannon Financial Institute’s website November, 2017

You post photographs of your children, relatives, and friends from your recent family vacation at Sea Island, GA on one of your social media sites. These pics are great. Digital cameras make every shutterbug a pro. Someone could use these photos in an advertisement they’re so awesome! Unfortunately, someone might do just that since these photographs now belong to the site you have posted them to.

“You grant us a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any intellectual property content that you post on PenguinPostsAntarctica.”

I copied and pasted this sentence from the Terms of Service of a large social media site (except for the bit about penguins). You will find similar language in the Terms of Service of almost every social media site. What does it mean exactly? You post something to a social media site, and they can use it in any way they see fit. Anytime, anywhere in the world for as long as they want without paying you a dime or getting your permission. Talk about identity theft.


Eight Ways to Protect Your Identity

1) As noted above, be cautious of what you and your family members post on social media sites. In fact, your UHNW clients should consider not using social media until stronger security protocols are in place.

2) If you are flying commercial, never toss your boarding pass into the trash.  Take it with you and shred it when you get home. Besides your frequent flyer number which is usually good enough to hack your airline account, boarding passes contain enough personal information in the barcode for any hacker to steal your ID. How can hackers read a barcode? That’s easy. All one need do is scan the barcode and load it onto a site which reads barcodes. In seconds you have all the info you need to steal someone’s ID. You can get the details from the top internet security blog here:   https://krebsonsecurity.com/2017/08/why-its-still-a-bad-idea-to-post-or-trash-your-airline-boarding-pass/

3) When you use an ATM machine, always take your receipt with you, and shred it when you get home. Your ATM receipt has your account number on it so never toss it into the trash bin by the machine. In fact, Privacy Rights Clearinghouse says never toss any paper or document with your name on it into the trash before shredding it.*

4) If asked for your Social Security number, the Social Security Administration says you are entitled to ask why it is needed; how it will be used; what happens if you refuse; what law requires you to give your number. **

5) If you make a purchase using a credit card, merchants cannot ask you for your Social Security number. In their merchant agreements, neither Visa, nor MasterCard, nor American Express requires a cardholder to give a merchant their Social Security number as a condition of sale.  ***

6) Once you put your trash out in a public space such as the sidewalk in front of your home or public alley in the back, anyone can legally comb through it. That’s why you want to shred everything. Privacy Clearinghouse recommends using confetti, cross-cut or diamond-cut shredders and not strip shredders. ****

7) For marketing reasons, store clerks and others will often ask for your address. You’re not obligated to provide this information nor is it a condition of using a credit card. If someone insists, several security experts suggest giving this address: 9800 Savage Rd, Fort Meade, MD 20755; the address of the National Security Agency. (This is the contact address listed on their public website).

8) One last yet very important point. When in public refrain from discussing your finances, romantic life, or any aspect of your life you don’t wish to see on the front page of the newspaper. Keep in mind the World War Two adage, “loose lips sink ships.”  Why? Consider this. On  September 19, 2017, two attorneys on President Trump’s legal team had lunch on the patio of a popular Washington, DC restaurant. They discussed legal matters in which the President was involved. Because the men were in a public place, it was perfectly legal for the New York Times reporter sitting with his back to the men to take down everything they said and write a story about their conversation. Isn’t That Trump’s Lawyer? An Accidental Scoop

Copyright ©2017 Cannon Financial Institute – All Rights Reserved


  • https://www.privacyrights.org/
    ** https://www.ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-10002.pdf
    *** https://www.creditcards.com/credit-card-news/what-info-merchants-ask-for-when-using-credit-card-1282.php
    **** https://bucks.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/03/30/financial-tuneup-what-you-need-to-shred/


Contributing Writer: Subject Matter Expert Charles McCain

COMMENT FROM CHARLES McCAIN: Cannon Financial Institute is the “gold standard” for wealth management training, development and consulting. I worked at the firm for many years and my colleagues were the most talented people I have ever worked with.  Last year the firm sought me out to write articles for them which I started doing in January of  2016. After a hiatus of nine years, I am pleased to report that my colleagues continue to be the most talented people I have ever worked with and it is a pleasure to be working with them again.  I take them directly from the Cannon website and the links work.  I will post the articles I write for them on my blog after they appear on Cannon’s website. https://www.cannonfinancial.com


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Charles McCain

Charles McCain is a Washington DC based freelance journalist and novelist. He is the author of "An Honorable German," a World War Two naval epic. You can read more of his work on his website: http://charlesmccain.com/