The importance of your name

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My name is Lee. There are quite a few Lees in the world. There are quite a few Lee Hamptons too; one of them is the Mayor of Alabama, another is a Commercial & Retail Development Company. But, neither of these is me, I’m unique….honest.

Your identity, as we are now very much aware, is of paramount importance. Ten years ago, the concerns of identity fraud were for those in positions of power and authority, not us everyday-Joe-Bloggs-types. But now, it is an ever-prevalent issue. From having your Facebook account hacked through to your credit card being cloned. Obviously, your credit card is quite a concern but measures are now in place to quickly stop it and also reimburse you with the funds, which were taken. When your Facebook or Twitter account is hacked, this is in a much more public arena and can do quite considerable damage even after it is identified and stopped.

People have faced public prosecution for comments they have posted on the likes of Twitter. A very good example of this was Paul Chambers who posted on Twitter, “Robin Hood airport is closed. You’ve got a week and a bit to get your sh*t together, otherwise I’m blowing the airport sky high!!”

For this, he was prosecuted and received a fine for £2,600.00. The case received a very public enquiry and caused a great deal of outrage across the Twitter community. The case is currently being appealed at the High Court. An interesting aspect of the case was the wealth of support for Paul, with many well-known celebrities pledging their support. Stephen Fry has said he will pay whatever fine the Courts administer. The law is becoming more and more aware of social media and although in this case, the actual owner of the account wrote the post, a hacked account can have very serious consequences very quickly for an individual.

Figures released by CIFAS in February 2010, show that in 2009, in the UK, there were 85,000 victims of impersonation and 24,000 victims of bank account fraud. This represents a 35% and 15% increase respectively from 2008 levels.

Your data, the information recorded about you such as your name, address, age, job, the car you drive, your likes/dislikes, relationship status, whether you’ve ever banked online, whether you’ve got a Facebook account or an account with an online retailer, is all out there in the World Wide Web. Lots of people now don’t show their birth date as part of their Facebook profile as it is a key security question asked by companies to confirm you are who you say you are. Because of this, lots of people were finding their identities were being cloned.

Now while most of our information is sitting securely on a server somewhere protected by various levels of security and legal protection (Data Protection Act), it is still OUT there and not in our heads. It was only last year the Revenue managed to send the details of 50,000 taxpayers to the wrong people.

So, next time you’re Ego Surfing, take some time to see who else is out there with your name and think twice before you give up all your information! Once it’s on the web, it’s there forever.

I’ve been Steve Smith and I hoped you’ve enjoyed this blog. And remember please don’t have nightmares and do sleep well.

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