For the 13th straight year, identity theft topped the list of consumer complaints directed toward the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), according to FTC.gov. In total, the FTC received 369,132 complaints involving identity theft, 18 percent of all complaints received. The data represents a substantial increase from 2011, when the FTC received 279,156 identity theft complaints.
As with most hacking, sophisticated criminals are developing tactics to deceive unassuming consumers faster than defenders can fight back. If consumers are going to fight this destructive trend, they must take steps to protect financial information and ward off lurking criminals. According to LifeLock.org, constant monitoring and quick response to identity threats is the most effective way to prevent catastrophic attacks.
The Internet enables consumers to pay bills, buy gifts and even shop for groceries from the comfort of home. Digital shopping comes at a price, however. Online consumers lose the immediate luxury of having a purchased product in hand. The gap between the time of payment and time of arrival is one area where identity thieves thrive. Fake retail sites “phish” for consumer information posing as legitimate shopping platforms in hopes of collecting credit card and personal information. The supposed shipping period is plenty of time for criminals to max credit cards and remove their trails.
Identity thieves have taken acts into everyday life. Savvy criminals can install debit card skimmers on ATMs. These unassuming devices look like a part of the system and obtain credit card numbers.
When identity thieves get hold of personal and financial information, the results can be overwhelming. According to a survey by Javelin Strategy and Research, the average fraud amount for identity theft victims was $4,607 in 2010. Identity theft can also affect credit scores, job opportunities and tax considerations. The period of time immediately following identity thefts can lead to excessive stress.
Even in situations when identity theft is resolved, the trials can leave a lasting effect financially and emotionally.
Avoiding identity theft starts with a prevent defense. We can’t fully immunize ourselves from the possibility of identity theft, but a few straightforward measures can provide a framework of protection and support. First, stay up-to-date on the latest ways in which identity thieves obtain information. Along with “phishing” sites and debit card skimmers, other scams include mobile credit card processors that steal information, spyware software that compromises sensitive information stored on computers, and fake charities. As banks and law enforcement shutdown what allows these scam thieves to find new ways to develop personal and financial information; stay up-to-date on the latest scams and you’ll know what to look for.
Identity theft protection services provide an additional layer of support. These professionals look for outstanding trends and guarantee money back in the event that your name is stolen. We can’t dedicate our lives to monitoring our identities, but companies like Lifelock can.