itSynergy: Blog

Claim Your Online Identity Before Hackers Do

Claim Your Online Identity Before Hackers Do

Free August 9 “Hacking the Human” webinar to share tips for protecting your personal or business identity

PHOENIX, Ariz. (July 26, 2018) – What are the steps you or your business can take to claim your online identity before hackers do? Where can you look to see if your identity has already been stolen?

These questions will be answered during itSynergy’s next “Hacking the Human” webinar, “Claim Your Identity” on Thursday, August 9 at 11:30 a.m. The free, 15-minute webinar will be conducted by itSynergy’s President and CEO Michael Cocanower, a cybersecurity expert and certified ethical hacker who has been recognized nationally and locally for his IT expertise. Interested participants can register at:

“It’s important to claim your online identity before hackers or malevolent actors do,” Cocanower said. “Whether it’s a hacker convincing a utility company to disconnect your service and send your deposit to a new address or it’s a former employee setting up fake social media profiles for your business, dealing with identity theft can have devastating financial and emotional consequences.”

According to the Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC), breaches hit a new record in 2017, with 1,579 breaches tracked, up 44.7 percent from 1,091 in 2016. The business category suffered the most breaches for the third year in a row, with 870 breaches or 55 percent of the total number of breaches last year. The number of records exposed rose to about 179 million, compared with 37 million in 2016.

Identity theft from data breaches is also on the rise. According to research by Javelin, 31.7 percent of breach victims in 2016 later experienced identity fraud. Tax-related fraud is the most common type of identity theft after credit card fraud. As of March 5, 2016, the IRS reported that it identified 42,148 tax returns with $227 million claimed in fraudulent refunds.

There are big risks, too, for people who don’t have an online account with the Social Security Administration (SSA). In 2015, the SSA identified more than 30,000 suspicious MySSA registrations, according to the Office of the Inspector General. The OIG, which maintains a hotline for consumer complaints related to Social Security, also said it received more than 58,000 allegations of fraud related to MySSA accounts from February 2013 to February 2016.

“It’s a huge hassle to try to get your identity back after it’s stolen,” Cocanower said. “Some people also make the mistake of thinking that they are safe if they avoid or limit online activity. I’ll be sharing several timely tips to help participants be proactive in claiming their identities on websites they may not have considered before.”

The ITRC’s recent Aftermath Study included startling statistics relating to how identity theft affects people beyond the loss of data and personal information:

  • 26 percent of respondents had to borrow money from family or friends.
  • 22 percent took time off work.
  • 15.3 percent of respondents sold possessions to pay for expenses caused by their identity theft.
  • 66 percent of respondents experienced fear regarding their personal financial security.
  • 75 percent of identity theft victims reported that they were severely distressed by the misuse of their information.
  • 25 percent of respondents said they sought professional help to manage their identity theft experience—either going to a doctor for their physical symptoms, or seeking some kind of therapy or emotional support.

The “Hacking the Human” webinars take place at 11:30 a.m. on the second Thursday of each month. Each webinar provides useful tips to ward off cyberattacks and more complex social engineering schemes that result in theft and corporate espionage.

For more information, call itSynergy at (602) 297-2400 or visit


About Michael Cocanower, President and CEO of itSynergy

He has his black belt in the Kung Sul division of Hwa Rang Do, a Korean martial art, so it’s fitting that Michael Cocanower’s passion is helping small and medium-sized businesses defend themselves against malicious cyber intruders. A Phoenix native, Cocanower founded itSynergy in 1997, and under his leadership, the company has experienced exponential revenue growth. A long-standing Microsoft Partner, itSynergy provides strategic technology management services for small and mid-sized organizations on a fixed monthly fee. Cocanower, who holds a Certified Ethical Hacker certification from the EC-Council, has received numerous awards and widespread industry recognition throughout his career, including being named one of 20/20 Visionaries in Channel Pro Network magazine’s May 2016 issue. The magazine regularly turns to him for input on current IT trends, and called him a “shrewd and articulate observer of the SMB market.” In addition, the Arizona chapter of Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) recently appointed Cocanower to the board of directors as forum chair after serving two years as membership chair.

Media Contact:

Sue Kern-Fleischer, PublicizeThis!, (602) 810-1404,



itSynergy has been providing managed IT services and outsourced technology management to small- and mid-sized businesses for over 20 years. We are seen as trusted technology advisors by clients because we partner with them for success. Our philosophy is that when technology works as it should, it supports and enhances an organization’s ability to accomplish its goals and objectives and meet business growth goals.