As technology advances, the incidents of identity theft statistics also rise.
We all too often hear of the occurrence of id fraud, whether it affects us directly or someone we know. It seems the number of victims is increasing rapidly in 2014. So just how common is id fraud? How can you or someone you know fall victim to such situations and what can you do to prevent having your identity stolen.
ID theft was accounted for in consumer reporting roughly 10 million times in the year 2008. Just in the last year, the number of identity fraud situations has increased 13 percent. The dollar amount from identity theft has been reported to have decreased, so why is the number of identity thefts increasing? Even though identity theft might be easier to spot these days, there is an increasingly number of situations that consumers find themselves in and did not even realizing they were giving identity thieves the ammo they needed.
For an example, when you sign up for a social network, think of all of the personal information that you give without even thinking it is important. You submit your birth date to verify your age, your phone number, while some go as far as to put their address, their hometown, where they went to school, or even their children and pets names. These are all small details that may seems insignificant, when in fact small details that no one will know are just the details that are used to verify your identity. Giving these small details to the general public or even a private group online, you are at greater risk for having your identity stolen. If you must interact on a social network, make your personal details private and be very careful about what you share with others, public or private. Though private, keep in mind that your information can still be at risk. For an example, the networking website LinkedIn.com was compromised recently, causing their member’s information to be available to online hackers.
Identity Theft Numbers Show That Online ID Theft Continues To Rise
There are also many websites where we shop that require much personal information to establish an account and make your purchases. For 2010, www.antiphishing.com, states that online shopping attribute to 3.6% of all identity fraud and ranks 6th for the most targeted industries for identity thieves. Be very careful that the information you give, i.e. your credit card information, is not saved for later ‘quick’ checkouts. Consider shopping on websites that offer you a ‘guest’ checkout, where you do not have to sign up and give your personal information for future emails or updates. Although they operate on a ‘secure’ website, hackers can still break through. Just recently two major online retailers Zappos.com and 6PM.com fell victim to a situation where their ‘secure’ servers were comprised, leaving their customers accounts and information vulnerable to identity fraud. More recently, the security breach at Target on the hack of Nordstrom’s databases over the holidays underline the need for monitoring your credit files to fight id fraud crime.
Another way identity thieves can steal your information is through banking websites. The most secure of sites, online banking can be more dangerous than you think. Even though the site is secure, the information you give and where you access it can lead to identity theft. The most personal information is located on these sites, which will/can lead to someone stealing your finances in addition to your identity. Remember; always change your passwords frequently- on your online banking accounts as well as all other website on which you hold accounts that hold your personal information. Frequently check your accounts for any suspicious activity.
In addition to the web, other sources of technology that serves as a hub to access your personal information. With the invention of the Smartphone, it stands to reason that everyone wants one with all of the amenities they offer. When they access their own login information via their Smartphone, they usually save their information because of course they are the only ones who are using their phones. Needless to say, the theft of Smartphone’s has increased just as fast as the sales. May identity thieves find this is an easy way to obtain personal information about a victim and they’re right! If you are using a web browser via Smartphone, never login to your banking information and if you must login to other websites, do not save your login/password information.
Another way to secure your identity and help prevent yourself from becoming one of the id theft– keep up with your credit report. Take advantage of your free annual credit report at Experian.com, Equifax.com, or TransUnion.com.
Having all of your financial activity on paper, in front of you, can make it easier to read over and identify any suspicious activity in which you feel might be in error and could be the result of identity theft. Should you find yourself a victim of identity fraud, you should notify the police.
You will also want to notify the companies that you do not recognize to be affiliated with such as unknown banking institutions or credit card companies. Let them know you did not open these accounts and they will instruct you on how to dispute the errors and further steps you will need to take. Once you have discovered your identity has been compromised, it would be in your best interest to close all other accounts and re open with different account numbers, passwords, and other security measures so that the identity thief(ves) cannot access those in which they haven’t already.
ID Theft Statistics Take Aways
Remember, id fraud is a serious matter which can cause a lot of pain and anxiety to its victims and takes much time to repair, sometimes years to recover. Treat your personal information as very sensitive material and do not share it with just anyone, especially online. Keeping your personal information secure and ‘personal’ is the first step in protecting yourself to ensure you do not become the next victim.