Securing Your Identity: Netflix’s Ozark Masters Deception

Posted on by Michelle Adams-Dixon

Ever have anxiety or tension build in the pit of your stomach when watching a show or series? Well, if you’ve ever watched an episode of Netflix’s Ozark, there’s a solid chance that’s happened. Watch a full season or the entire series? There’s no way you could not have some level of anxiety—at least that’s the way we felt about it. A similar pit in your stomach can happen when someone finds a way to breach your personal or professional identity.

For those unfamiliar with the series, Ozark focuses on the Byrde family, moving from the suburbs of Chicago to the Land of the Ozarks region in Central Missouri after a money-laundering scheme for a Mexican drug cartel goes south. The main character, Marty Byrde (played by Jason Bateman), is a financial advisor and initially takes on the burden of trying to right the ship. But his wife, Wendy (played by Laura Linney), and their two kids are eventually dragged in as well, as they become entangled with local criminals and even the Kansas City mob while working to execute a $500 million money-laundering scheme over the course of five years.

Oftentimes, it’s a weak link somewhere along the chain that allows for an identity security breach to occur. It can occur when you least expect it, and you can do everything else right, but all it takes is one slip up somewhere along the line and vigilance from a criminal to exploit an opportunity. The same can be said in Ozark. Throughout the series, you will often find the cartel or the Byrde family and their associates surveying and testing local individuals they feel they can squeeze information from or can create leverage over for a scheme to move forward.

The plot of Ozark over the course of five seasons (The final episodes of the series debuted on Netflix on April 29, but don’t worry, no spoilers are included in this blog.) has more twists and turns than a well-developed spiderweb or maze. It keeps you, the viewer, on your toes throughout. (Tip: This is NOT a show to watch while you are scrolling on your phone—you’ll miss too much.) Similarly, criminals hoping to nab your identity can be resourceful, patient, and creative in their attempts to gain entry to your identity and personal information.

It’s not comfortable or fun when your identity is breached at home or at work. It’s jolting. Someone could have accessed your personal information and used it for illegal activity—to impersonate you, ruin your credit, etc. It’s like finding out someone broke into your house while you were away, and you get that sinking feeling of wondering what the trespassers went through and what they took. Unnerving, to say the least.

Identity security breaches are on the rise. Traditional identity fraud rose a whopping 79% in 2021, which affected more than 42 million Americans and cost $52 billion. In addition, a startling trend of child identity theft has taken off and already ballooned to a $918 million problem. But there are ways to combat it. Utilize multi-factor authentication for the most secure information you have, like bank accounts, and secure anything where your social security number, birth certificate, and other valuable personal identifiers can be accessed. The advancement of technology with thumbprint and facial recognition has also helped keep information more secure. But be aware, as technology develops, so too does the sophistication of criminal activity to gain access to your information.

Our recommendations: First and most important, always secure your identity—it’s no joke, and it’s a pain in the rear to go through a labor-intensive process to recover any stolen information and change all of your passwords, logins, etc. Second, add Ozark to your watch list to either start or finish. (Hint: If you are just starting it—good luck on not binge-watching it and letting it consume your life for weeks—yes, it’s that good) Have fun with it, but also remember—identity security is a topic we all should not take lightly—it can and will reach every corner you can think of. Even the small towns of middle America surrounded by mountains and rivers.

Michelle Adams-Dixon

Senior Director, Global Marketing & PR, RSA Conference

Identity Anti-Fraud Privacy RSAC Insights

fraud identity theft

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