Get ready for some alarming numbers. There were over 12.6 million victims of identity fraud in the US in 2012. That reflects an increase of more than 1 million over the previous year. The haul for the fraudsters? How about more than $21 billion. Identity theft has become a huge and horrible problem for the victims and businesses impacted by this crime and the trend is growing as indicated in a recent report by Javelin Strategy and Research.
The 2013 Identity Fraud Report shows a lot to be concerned about:
- There were 12.6 million victims in 2012, equating to 1 incident every 3 seconds.
- Data breaches are often involved in identity fraud and data breach notifications should be taken seriously. The survey found that 1 in 4 data breach notification recipients became a fraud victim.
- Data breaches most often gain credit card numbers, but personal information including social security numbers, online banking login information, user names and passwords are also compromised.
- Among victims, 50 percent found the fraud by monitoring their bank statements, credit scores and purchasing identity protection services. In 33 percent of cases, banks and card issuers notified the consumer.
- Fraud victims are wary about where they shop after the attach. Fifteen percent of victims avoid smaller online retailers after an incident.
- More than 1.5 million consumers were victims of familiar fraud. In the case of familiar fraud, the victims know the fraudster.
Stolen credit card accounts, fraudulent purchases, opening new accounts or misusing medical insurance are just some of the ways that identity thieves victimize consumers and businesses.
The first step towards prevention is to manage and safeguard your personal and financial information. Our new Tip Sheet: 17 Tips to Protect Your Identity includes several simple steps to help you protect your information from falling into the wrong hands.
Here are a few tips to get started:
- Guard your financial and personal information by locking up financial documents and shredding documents before you dispose of them
- Monitor your accounts regularly and be concerned if bills and statements don't arrive when expected
- Be careful with the information you share on social sites
- Before disposing of a computer, phone or tablet, make sure that all personal information and photos are removed and deleted
- Review the Explanation of Benefits from your medical insurance provider to confirm all activity and visits
Identity theft is the top complaint made to the FTC and the FTC's website is a great source for information on what to do should you become a victim of identity theft.
If you would like more tips on what you can do to help prevent your identity being compromised, please download our tip sheet. Do you have suggestions or an experience to share? Let us know below.