We All Need to Get Serious About Our Cyber Security – An Interview with an Identity Theft Warrior

identity theft
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It’s National Cyber Security Month! How’s that for a sexy ‘holiday” title?!

But here’s the deal: when it comes to my personal info–you know things like my social security number and credit lines and bank account info–I will take safe over sexy every damn time.

So let’s humanize this tech-heavy issue, shall we? Cue badass, team building, cyber security powerhouse Eva Velasquez.

Eva  is the President and CEO at the Identity Theft Resource Center, a non-profit created to help victims of identity theft in resolving their cases–get this–FOR FREE. Eva’s an expert in this field and has been featured on Huffington Post Live, Forbes, Bloomberg, and CNBC Nightly Business Report.

Pretty rad woman, right? We got to ask her a few of our burning questions…

 

You’re at a cocktail party. Someone asks you what you do. What do you say?

I’m the Identity EVA-ngelist. I provide a voice to victims of identity theft and cybercrime for free.

What do you love about what you do?

I love empowering people, particularly when they are in a place where they are feeling hopeless and powerless.  I love being able to get in front of other leaders and decision makers and provide a voice to victims of identity theft and cybercrime.  I have a tremendous amount of hope that I can make systemic changes to the way we handle our data and identities which will leave society better off in the long term.

How would you explain your purpose?

Identity theft and cybercrime issue are complicated, and not top of mind for most people because they have areas of expertise that lay elsewhere.  I want to inform and educate individuals, so they can make appropriate decisions for themselves regarding privacy, identity management, cyber security etc.

People need to understand that in this world today, we are often not the customer of the platforms we engage with, we are the product.  If you still want to engage with that entity after understanding that, at least you are making an informed decision. With National Cyber Security Awareness Month coming up in October, it is a great time for individuals to learn more about these resources available including various opportunities for women in tech to get more involved.

People need to understand that in this world today, we are often not the customer of the platforms we engage with, we are the product.

Cause you’re passionate about right now and why?

I am very passionate about ensuring that your ability to self-protect from identity theft and cybercrime is not dependent upon your income. Consumers that don’t have the disposable income to pay for services, or take advantage of consumer protection opportunities should not be left out or forgotten simply because they can’t be monetized by corporate America.

Currently, we are working on free credit freezes for all Americans through our Free From All 3 change.org petition (if this is something that speaks to you, you can add your signature here). Freezes are only free under some circumstances and for some people; they should be free to anyone who wants to take advantage of them as a proactive consumer protection step.  Not everyone can afford to pay the fees to freeze/unfreeze their credit every time they need to.  That is outrageous.

What was your very first job?

My very first job was ironing and price tagging clothing for a thrift store in San Diego when I was 12 years old!

What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received?

Take the jobs that no-one else wants to do and learn from the experience even if you aren’t getting paid for it.  The experience will be invaluable.

What does a successful day look like to you?

When I change someone’s mind about the importance of identity hygiene and cyber security then I feel like I have done my job.  Even if it’s just one person.

How do you manage stress?

Hiking.  Being out in the mountains and on the trails is my Zen time.  I hike for about an hour a day during the week, with longer hikes (3-4 hours) on the weekends.

What gets you jazzed?

My team here at the ITRC.  When I see this group of dedicated folks feeling their purpose and that they are fulfilling their personal missions, I just can’t help feeling grateful and excited to be a part of that with them.

What do you wish someone had told you when you were 22?

A failure is an event, not a person.  I wish that someone had told me to embrace failure and imperfection because they are the best learning experiences by far.  I have learned so much more from my failures than my successes.  I used to think “failure is not an option.” Now that I have more years under my belt I think “fail fast”.

I used to think “failure is not an option.” Now that I have more years under my belt I think “fail fast”.

Biggest lesson in life you’ve learned so far you’d like to share?

When it comes to friendships it’s about quality over quantity.  When I was younger I used to think that having a large circle of friends and being popular would make me happy.

What I found was the opposite.

Too many friendships/relationships to manage just lead to more superficial interaction, and don’t let you get to the meaningful stuff.  Establish a handful of key relationships in your life, family members, and friends and nurture them over time.  I have found a 30-minute walk and talk with a good friend so much more fulfilling than getting 1000 likes on an Instagram post.

 I have found a 30-minute walk and talk with a good friend so much more fulfilling than getting 1000 likes on an Instagram post.

How can we connect with you and ITRC?

Twitter
Facebook
LinkedIn
Our site!

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Lucy Ross | Editor-in-Chief

I went to NYU for Film & TV and had the entrepreneur’s spirit since being a tot when I contracted chores out to my older sister for a profit (ha!). I run Hello Lucy Design (a web management and design biz) full time as well as Editorial Direction for LikeABossGirls.com. As a full-of-energy go-getter, my motto is “Why the heck not?”. I'm a mid-western girl who has worked for the BBC in London, Nickelodeon in NYC, and Jazz Aspen Snowmass in Colorado. One of my proudest accomplishments was serving as Co-Director for three consecutive years for the Fusion Film Festival of NYU, celebrating women in film, TV, and new media.

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