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Privacy a thing of the past or present?

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Reported by: Ron Terrell
Updated: 2/25 4:08 pm Published: 2/24 10:40 pm

TULSA, Okla. - Most of us are constantly handing out our personal information every time we turn around or get online.

With hackers and identity thieves lurking, is our ability to protect that private information disappearing?

Our FOX23 team investigates and you may not like the answer.

"Privacy as we know it is dead,” said Damon Doremus.

That’s a pretty powerful statement... But think about it...

One click, one tap and it's out there.

Your information.

Just think about the different ways you use private information on the internet.

Check the bank account in the morning, buy some concert tickets, pay a bill, buy an app on your phone, one-click shop on Amazon and heck signing up for health insurance.

Now think about the frequency.

Many of us use that information dozens of times each week, hundreds of times a month and thousands of times a year.

Even with secure websites, just how secure is that information?

The recent Target breach and online security hacks made us wonder does privacy still exist?

That brings us back to the statement from a Geek Rescue professional, "Privacy as we know it is dead,” said Damon Doremus.

Doremus told FOX23 whether we like it or not, it's the new normal.

"It’s out there and you're having to give your date of birth and social security number pretty much every time you walk in someplace anymore. It's on every piece of paperwork for employment stuff to buying a car and anything associated with banking or health care," Doremus told us.

But we learned it isn't necessarily the simple act of clicking or tapping that causes your personal information to end up in the wrong hands, it could be where you're doing it.

"You're on your cellphone sitting at Friday’s restaurant, you're on the free Wi-Fi, and you buy something.

Well, was that Wi-Fi secured or not secured? If it was a free Wi-Fi it's not secured," said Doremus.

While some may avoid conducting business at certain unsecured places as a safeguard, we found out others take it one step further.

"Unless you go truly off the grid, your information is out there, and people have access to it," Doremus said.

FOX23 spoke with one woman who chose to go "off the grid" so to speak. Kimber McColloch claims to have had her identity stolen twice, once in 1999 and again in 2009.

“I had my identity stolen before it was popular. It was a total nightmare for me and after that I had somebody get a hold of my Social Security and my information,” said McColloch.

Kimber told me that's when she decided she'd had enough.

"I just made up my mind that I wasn't going to do it," McColloch told FOX23.

She now pays for everything with cash.

"I don't have credit. My credit's fine, but I choose not to shop online, bank online, I choose not to do any of that,” said McColloch.

While it may seem like there are limits to living without a bank, credit or debit cards, or even conducting business online, Kimber told us she hasn't encountered any situations where a company wouldn't work with her.

"Sometimes it's an inconvenience and it's a hassle, but I don't book reservations online. I don't pay for any of that online. I'll go to the hotel and pay for it,” McColloch said.

If you aren't quite ready to jump off the grid, Damon says the best thing you can do is simply stop and think.

"It's the wild wild west. It is. Just stop... Slow down a little bit. Think it through. People need to just stop for a moment... And think before they hand out personal information that could be negative to them in the future," Doremus said.

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