In 2012, reports of identity fraud increased by more than one million victims. In fact, fraudsters stole more than $21 billion last year, the highest amount since 2009.
According to the 2013 Identity Fraud Report, more than 12.6 million Americans were victims to identity theft last year, or one person every three seconds. The study found several significant trends:
One in four of people who receive notifications of data breaches became victims of identity fraud
If a company notifies you that your personal information has been compromised in a data breach, it’s important to take it seriously. You should be especially careful if you’re notified that your Social Security number has been compromised in a data breach. These breaches make you five times more likely to become victim of fraud.
Fraudsters use stolen information for less time than before
Personal information was misused for an average of 48 days in 2012, which is down from 55 days in 2011 and 95 days in 2010. More than half of victims detected fraud using financial alerts, identity protection services or by monitoring their accounts.
Here are some keys to preventing identity theft:
- Keep your personal information private: Keep your personal information and financial records secure behind a password. In fact, 12 percent of fraud victims know the fraudster personally.
- Look for secure connection: When you pay online, be sure you have a secure connection. One way to check if your connection is secure is to look for “https” in the website’s address. Check for this before entering any personal or payment information.
- Think before sharing: Before you give out any sensitive information, ask yourself who is asking for the information. Why do they need it? How will it be used? Don’t give out your information if you’re unsure about whether the request is legitimate. If a company asks for your full Social Security number to confirm your identity, ask for a different question.