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Identity Theft Statistics You Don’t Know & How to Stay Safe

Every year, billions of dollars are lost from cyber scams. Computer hackers steal personal information that allows for identity theft. This type of crime can impact individuals, families, and even large scale corporations. Protect yourself from allowing this to happen by better understanding the latest identity theft statistics and the best ways to keep your information safe. 

What is Identity Theft

Identify theft is when hackers commit personal and commercial security crimes using the internet, email, texting, phone, and standard mail. This can include taking your Social Security number, legal name, bank account number, password, or anything other sensitive personal details. If hackers steal your information, they can use this data to illegally open lines of credit, a driver’s license out of state, or to charge medical services. 

Identity Theft Statistics

The Council of Economic Advisers for the White House states that U.S. businesses and individuals lost between $57 billion to $109 billion due to malicious cyber activities in 2016. The Insurance Information Institute (III) 2017 saw a spike in identity fraud cases with 16.7 million victims. This was “a record high that followed a previous record the year before.”

The III also reports that 30 percent of consumers in the US received a notice of a data breach in 2017. This was up from 18 percent of consumers who suffered a data breach in 2016. In 2017 the total cost of these kinds of cyber-crimes was $16.8 billion.

The main type of data stolen in 2017—for the first time—was Social Security numbers, which exceeded the number of credit card numbers that were hacked. According to the III, the use of credit card microchips has made it nearly impossible to counterfeit cards. As a result, hackers and data thieves are now working more to create new accounts, such as credit cards or checking accounts, with false identities.

This is where the theft of Social Security numbers enables the opening of these new accounts. Most of the time individuals do not have to present an actual Social Security card when giving their numbers. This makes it incredibly simple to steal and use this type of data.

Cybersecurity Threats

The internet has been a breeding ground for identity theft. The most common issues involved with cybersecurity risks with the internet and email communication, are:

  • Destruction of property
  • Loss of data
  • Business disruption
  • Disruption of services
  • Proprietary data theft
  • Theft of intellectual property
  • Loss of sensitive financial information
  • Loss of strategic corporate information

What to Do to Protect Yourself

How do you know if you are a victim of identity theft? Sometime in the future, you may try to open a credit card or get a mortgage only to discover that someone has used your personal information to open their own accounts. The result could be a negative impact on your credit score, creditors wrongfully accusing you, or a denial for a loan. In addition, you are most likely going to have to pay for an attorney, not to mention the hours of work dealing with this situation. To help protect against identity theft, make sure you take actions against common scams.

One of the most common identity threat is a simple phone scam. If you answer the phone and a hacker is on the other end of the line, you could become susceptible simply through a yes or no answer. According to MyCreditUnion, a common phone scam is to answer “Yes” to any number of questions, such as “Are you the owner of the residence” can lead to unauthorized charges on your account. And never give out sensitive information if you are unsure of the caller’s true identity.

A few other tips to consider when trying to protect yourself against identity theft:

  • Enroll in a credit monitoring service
  • Check your bank accounts and credit card statement monthly for unauthorized charges
  • Always use strong passwords, and change them often

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