When It Comes To Identity Theft, How Paranoid Should You Be?

Being in the therapy business, I'm constantly monitoring my own psychological state, probably not unlike physicians who regularly check their pulse. Lately, I'm monitoring a growing sense of being watched. I don't think I'm becoming paranoid, yet, but it's starting to feel that way.

I'm on my third or fourth credit card number in almost as many years, as I keep getting letters saying there's no real cause for alarm but it's possible my information may have been compromised. Lightening has already struck twice in the identity department because I shopped at Target during the dread breach period and have a policy with Premera. Thankfully, I've never had a background check (at least not that I know of) with the federal government so all the lurid details of my boring personal life aren't waiting to be devoured overseas.

I know at least one source of my potential paranoia. Just the other week, I had a cyber-expert come and speak to my staff. He was a very nice man with a very scary message. His message about Internet security was short - there isn't any. Holding up his cell phone, he explained it's a portal for you to find out about the world and it's a portal for the world to find out about you. I suppose I've always known that but I comforted myself with a couple of assumptions; the first being, just because the world could find out about me, why would it want to? I've been subconsciously counting on my very small importance in a very big world. The second assumption has been, how would anyone ever find me within that massive mountain of digital data? I've been subconsciously counting on anonymity to mask me from the info-miners and byte-gatherers.

Little did I know that my cell phone, which I somehow can't seem to live without, and with whom I talk on a regular basis, can be made to blab about me to others, sending out all sorts of information, including where I am, who I've talked to or what I've searched for. I didn't know I was supposed to be covering up the internal camera lens on my laptop with tape so that it couldn't be digitally sweet-talked into turning on and catching me in a (here's that word again) compromising situation. I learned that thieves could be using Google Maps to check out my house, looking for the density of vegetation for hiding places, as well as the number and location of neighbors who might interfere with their nefarious plans.

And it's not just overt thieves I have to worry about; it's the subtle, innocuous thieves, who only want my data to sell to others. Thieves who have names like Facebook and Google and, even, Uber. I thought I was using technology and I'm coming to understand that technology is using me. I thought I was buying technology and I'm learning that technology is selling me. I don't like it but I'm not sure what to do about it. One thing I know I'm not going to do is stop using technology. That's like expecting me to never eat another donut; not going to happen.

I'm learned that, in order to use the technology I find so useful and helpful, I need to spend time and energy educating myself on the latest ways I could be hacked or compromised. One more thing to add to my to-do list and one more thing to add to my worry-about list.

I've learned that, in order to use the technology I find so useful and helpful, I need to be suspicious of technology that is so useful and helpful because I won't always know exactly who is using and helping themselves, through that technology, to me.

So, while I'm watching myself for paranoia, I'm also watching for who might be watching me.