Private Investigators ask: How safe is your information online? Are you making it easy to take advantage of you?

We live in an age of information, an age where your personal information is currency. Anyone can attempt to track you down, blackmail you or cause you some sort of harm. Making these types of problems possible, and easier, is people not understanding how to protect themselves online.

The 21st century has been called the age of disinformation. It’s a time where we’ve seen an unprecedented amount of information literally at your fingertips. From world events to the exact location of people, to their habits and preferences. It’s all out there and it’s important you learn how to protect yourself.

What people forget, or don’t realize, while enjoying free internet services and social media websites is that they themselves are the product and it’s their information that is being traded and sold for enormous profit.

The internet is a vast space, almost like a black hole of information. This information can be available to anyone smart enough to extract it. Experts have gone so far to say that in this age of information, privacy doesn’t exist anymore. If someone were to hire a private investigator to find you, how long do you think it would take before they had a significant amount of information about you? Perhaps much more than you ever felt comfortable to share?

Isn’t that terrifying?  Isn’t that a violation of your rights? This a question that everyday people and many government officials are struggling to answer. You don’t have to look further than the daily news to read stories about criminals victimizing people with the internet as their only tool. The internet transcends borders and nation states, it almost seems like a living breathing entity that no one has any idea how it can be policed, or even controlled.

Everyday information you take for granted like; phone numbers, vehicle licenses, home or work addresses, or even details surrounding your daily habits can be sought after. How much information do you reveal about yourself in postings or imagery on sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn, among others?

One major area of exposure is people’s use of unsecure public Wi-Fi. There have been many documented cases where people using malware applications were able to intercept web credentials and even install monitoring software on devices of people using public Wi-Fi.  It is highly recommended that if you use these types of services you protect yourself with a VPN (Virtual Private Network) software. Most reputable VPN software have a small cost attached to it, but you look at it as buying piece of mind. If you don’t know what it is? Then it’s time to learn!

With the rise of ‘Tap to Pay’ services for your debit and credit cards there are now documented cases of people using technology to skim card numbers without people even realizing it. Everyday tasks like riding transit or buying a coffee can compromise your information.

Now, some would argue that when you are provided with free services or access to social media sites by companies like Google or Facebook that there is always a cost. Your personal information is that cost and you must ask yourself if it’s a cost worth paying?

One constant among people is the attitude of “It will never happen to me”.  Another, …”Who would ever want information about me?”  Why do I need to be concerned about this type of thing? Remember, information is power and in today’s day and age, your details are currency.

Professionals like Private Investigators use this online information as needed but also, other less savoury characters feed from complacency and people’s indifference to the amount of information that is online. People don’t realize that a digital trail of bread crumbs can make you easy to take advantage of.

We live in an exciting time where technology has made the world smaller and made it easier for us to stay in touch with friends and loved ones. However, it also makes us more vulnerable. Best case scenario a private investigator can find information you may not realize you are revealing; worst case someone may take advantage of you or your family and victimize you. Either way you need to be aware that the threat exists and remember, information is power over you or over your family. Take some time to think about and control the amount and type of information you are letting out.