It’s safe to say that identity thieves are having a banner year in 2014, much to the dismay of everyone else. Merely midway to the entire year, the USA has already seen 368 data violations and over 10 million reported cases of personal information and ID theft, earning this offense the doubtful distinction of America’s “most common consumer complaint,” according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
A current report released by the Identity Theft Resource Center highlighted this year’s 10.7 million instances of private advice larcenies, which ran the gamut from credit card fraud to stolen medical records. Big data violations are now especially baffling sources for larceny of identity and cybercrime, having skyrocketed by almost 20 percent in only the past year.
Maybe most disconcerting about these trends is the rate at which identity theft appears to be growing. As stated by the Justice Department, ID theft cases in 2012 impacted over 16.6 million Americans – nearly triple the number of those involved in non-fatal violent crimes (6.8 million) that same year. That report, that was issued in December 2013, also identified over 34 million Americans -14 percent of the nation’s adult population – as having experienced some type of ID theft within their lifetimes. Hence, this sets identity theft near the very top of the FTC’s list of most commonly cited consumer criticisms, surpassing “debt collection, banks as well as lenders, imposter scams and telephone and mobile services.”
CBS News reports that while the number of identity theft cases has fallen (albeit somewhat) from 2009’s high of 13.9 million down to a current figure of 13.1 million, that is still tantamount to at least one instance of ID theft happening every two seconds. What is even more troubling is the greater part of those crimes occur without their victims ever understanding who’s responsible. Data released by the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) found that 90 percent of fraud victims were not aware of who actually stole their identity.
While certainly not irreversible, identity theft and the damage it inflicts on consumers’ finances can be a significant headache to undo. The BJS report noted that almost 30 percent of ID theft victims spent at least a month concluding dilemmas associated with fraud, and 14 percent had incurred out-of-pocket losses that averaged $1,769 per individual. To top it off, 36 percent of those afflicted by identity fraud reported enduring “moderate or acute mental distress as a result of the event.”
Unfortunately, regardless of the soaring frequency of identity theft cases, there is certainly still as of yet no comprehensive kind of identity theft protection. But that does not mean you are completely dependent, either. You will find steps you can take to significantly reduce your danger of being a victim of identity fraud.
For one, utilize the free annual credit reports provided by the nation’s three major credit reporting bureaus: TransUnion, Experian and Equifax. Consistently reviewing your credit history is able to help you weed out possibly fraudulent transactions and mistakes before they develop into much more serious difficulties.
Alternatively, you can use a credit monitoring service to help you perform this task. Your financial activity can be overseen by a quality credit monitoring service for particular activity that could indicate fraud. This sort of prompt notification may help grant the time necessary to take measures that are more constructive for stopping identity theft, such as freezing your credit accounts or filing fraud alerts with the credit reporting businesses.