Part of Prepping Is Keeping Your Identity Secure!
Identity theft in today’s electronic world has become one of the greatest threats to personal security and the numbers show that the threat is increasing. According to Businesswire’s article, “2012 Identity Fraud Report: Social Media and Mobile Forming the New Fraud Frontier,” identity theft rose by 13% in 2011 with more than 11.6 million Americans becoming victims. Additionally 15% of Americans, or about 36 million people, were notified of a breach of security involving their personal information. The popularity of social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+ along with the increased use of mobile devices can account for much of this increase.
What to Watch For
As the frequency of identity theft increases, so does awareness of the problem. Media reports of ID theft horror stories fuel a growing concern for personal information security. The FTC advises that people closely monitor their business account and bank statements, as well as checking their credit reports regularly and being more careful about sharing information online. A growing number of people are turning to professional identity protection services like LifeLock to manage their personal data security. Such companies are being credited for the fact that even though identity theft has risen steadily, actual costs to consumers have fallen by 40% since 2004 due to improved prevention and detection including fraud alerts.
Tried and True Methods
Although stealing information through electronic means is on the rise, old fashioned methods still account for much of this criminal behavior. Here are some of the most common methods of ID theft:
- Searching through trash for discarded documents with personal information such as credit card numbers, social security numbers, etc.
- Skimming, a practice where thieves conceal a device to collect information when a card is scanned through a reader.
- Phishing for information with fraudulent e-mails and pop-ups mimicking the sites of legitimate companies and institutions.
- Change of address scams where important mail such as billing statements and checks are diverted to a different address.
- Physical theft of purses, wallets and other sources of information.
- Impersonating a victim to gain information from utility companies, telephone companies, banks, etc.
More Than Money
Identity theft can have serious consequences for the victim beyond the loss of money including loss of credit and employment opportunities, and even prosecution for crimes they didn’t commit. Most victims don’t discover their identity has been compromised for months after the crime has been committed and can spend years, and, not to mention, thousands of dollars, repairing the damage.
Identity thieves can use stolen information in many different ways including opening credit card accounts, emptying bank accounts and taking out loans, securing services such as utilities and internet providers, obtaining government documents such as drivers licenses and social security cards.
Identity theft is a problem that is only going to grow with the dependency on technology in our everyday lives. With the ever increasing reliance on electronic means of sharing information and securing services, consumers must also increase their vigilance over the security of their personal information.
Identity theft and actual physical theft are real issues that face each and everyone of us everyday. Read the recent post I wrote on 25 Tips for improving your home security: http://www.realitysurvival.com/25-tips-for-increasing-security-at-home/
What have you done to protect yourself from identity theft? Please leave a comment below and share your tips with the rest of us!
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