Privileged Information - Part Two

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Once your personal information makes its way to the Internet, it could be stuck in cyberspace for years - if not forever.

According to Internet experts, you can find more public information online than you can in government buildings. What's more alarming is that your private information can also be found on the Internet.

Identity theft experts say once your information enters the electronic world there's not much you can do about it.

Dr. Richard Kirchmeyer from Western Kentucky University said within the next couple of years you will be able to conduct most public business online. But, the more you do online, the more you put yourself at risk for identity theft.

"There's probably more information out there in the digital world than we can even begin to imagine," Kirchmeyer said.

Anything the government knows about you can be found online, but there's nothing you can do about it because it's public information.

According to Kirchmeyer, you need to be more concerned about your private information since you have more control over it.

Putting things (on the Internet) about you that people can use to connect the dots with, allows people to create a persona that they can then use to spend money and apply for credit cards, according to Kirchmeyer. For a criminal connecting the dots isn't that hard.

"All you have to do is go on google and other specialized search engines and do a search on the information or the person for the information you need, and eventually over time, if your diligent enough and you keep at it, there's and incredible amount of information you can collect about people." Kirchmeyer said.

There are some websites specifically designed to find your personal information for a minimal fee and for a criminal it's a good investment.

"You can go to some things that will actually give social security numbers. You can go to certain sites that you can punch in somebody's name. If you are a renter it will pull that up. It will have your social security number or phone number, and there you go," said Detective Tim Aussbrooks of the Warren County Sheriff's Department

Most of the information out there is legal. However, how the information is used isn't.

"Any information out there that's on you, is on record some place, and the people, the identity thieves, they know where to find it. They know how to get it, and every piece of information that they acquire opens up another door - another window to get more information," said Jeff Nicholas, ADRS Consulting

Nicholas also said you should be concerned about the amount of public information that can be found online. Since you can't minimize what the government knows about you, you can minimize what personal information you allow on the Internet.

"Be careful who you give access to it, and be careful where your sending it. If it's on your local device you can control that to a certain extent. But as you put information about you in the hands of a host, then you have no control over what's going to happen to it," Kirchmeyer said.

According to Nicholas, if you fall victim to identity theft it could take you more than a year and several thousand dollars to get your life back to normal. Depending on the severity of the case you may never recover from identity theft.