Facebook is self-inflicted identify theft, now made easier with the Equifax hack

For the first time in my life I received a call from scammers posing as Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). The call originated from a newly released area code — an immediate sign of a fake. In case they contacted you too, the number is 289-855-2982. The caller’s voice was a text-to-speech engine — another sign of a fake. The impostors were trying to hide their identity or perhaps were poor at speaking English.

Their story was that I had to call back the number and divulge more personal information or else face a lawsuit regarding tax fraud.  This was the most obvious sign of being a fake. Actual tax fraud doesn’t just skip the audit and result in a lawsuit. Furthermore, the CRA would more likely contact me through their secure messaging system if they actually wanted to reach me about problems with my tax return.

Coincidentally this surge in scam calls happened right after Equifax announced that over 140 million of their accounts have had their accounts compromised. It’s very likely the scammers got a hold of my data to conduct their identity theft scheme.

It’s safe to assume that everything you see in your Equifax report is now out there in public, including all information other financial institutions have recorded about you and have reported to credit agencies.  This includes your social insurance number (SIN), your social security number (SSN) if you live or have lived in the U.S., your current address and phone number, your prior addresses and phone numbers, your date of birth and your written signature.

Dave Cullen of Computing Forever released a very timely video on Technocratic Dystopia, which discusses the dangers of using Facebook in a dystopian future. Users of Facebook are willingly putting their entire life histories in permanent Internet storage, ripe for abuse by hackers, corrupt government agencies and technocracies. Users are voluntarily submitting their full names, birth dates, e-mail and contact information, locations they have lived at and visited, photos of their friends and family, video showing their personal mannerisms and more.

Thankfully, I stopped using Facebook for more than seven years now after realizing how much of a net negative Facebook is to society. Deleting the account or the content inside did nothing (everything is still stored on the server — it is just hidden from public view), however seven years ago I stopped the bleeding. Aside from the anti-social tendencies that social media cultivates, using Facebook ultimately results in a major own-goal if you care at all about privacy and protecting yourself from technocrats and identity thieves.

Tens of millions of users have no recourse with all the information they have voluntarily put on social networks coupled with the Equifax hack. Their entire persona is online, out in public, ready to be imitated, analyzed and abused, and there’s no way of turning back. Security questions like “what is your mother’s maiden name?” or “what is the model of your first car?” are now questions with obvious answers to those that can link your social media accounts with your financial accounts.

These fake CRA and IRS phone calls are just the tip of the iceberg from amateur thieves. Armed with all your information, it just takes a good actor with the right props and makeup to live your life with your money.

There’s not much you can do about financial institutions and credit agencies leaking your data. Assume all information you give them will be hacked. But if you still voluntarily use Facebook and social media, that is a completely self-inflicted wound. Prepare for more chaos.

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Dave Cullen’s prediction of an Orwellian, “Minority Report” type future is not far-fetched.  I will likely address the growing technocracy in a future post.

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2 thoughts on “Facebook is self-inflicted identify theft, now made easier with the Equifax hack”
  1. Fascintating read thank you – more should be distributed online about these identity theft risks especially from social media. We certainly don’t see enough of this in the UK.

    1. Thanks, Stephen.

      I agree that it’s important to start discussions about these lesser known dangers of using social media.

      Back in the ICQ/MySpace era, users were rightfully more careful with their information on the Internet. Nowadays, they are too comfortable in confiding a lot of personal information to big social media companies. This has increased the financial and power incentives for controlling data, leading to higher demand of more advanced hacking techniques.

      I noticed in the UK and other parts of Europe there has been a crackdown on Twitter and Facebook accounts for alleged “hate speech” (this is also happening to an extent here in Canada). It’s chilling enough that people’s thoughts are being policed, but what’s less obvious and equally disturbing is how willing Twitter and Facebook are ratting their users out. Clearly they don’t care at all about users’ privacy. No hacking is needed in this case — just a flimsy accusation.

      Logically, this should lead to more users wanting to be less generous with their information on the Internet and with these social media companies. I don’t think we are anywhere near that stage of awareness.

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