Is Identity Theft on the Rise in the United States?

by JRO on August 23, 2013

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Are you currently monitoring your credit? Have you been the victim of identity theft before? Is identity theft on the rise? What can you do to make sure your identity, and the identity of your children, is protected from thieves? Knowing what to expect can help you protect yourself from being a victim and dealing with serious financial and legal battles due to identity theft.

Increasing Concern

The U.S. Department of Justice has stated that there were 12.6 million instances of identity theft reported from January to November of 2012. Credit card theft is clearly increasing. Setting alerts on your credit cards is a great way to protect yourself. Malicious online programs can be used to track your online habits and steal your credit card information and other financial details. If you use your credit card online, you will likely deal with theft problems. While you might be good about protecting your identity, and you rarely use your credit cards, the most skilled identity thieves know how to get to you. Many of them can hack into retailer’s computer systems to steal consumer information and millions of credit card numbers. Many companies have partnered with the U.S. Department of Justice to try and identify the hackers and their programs. A single stolen credit card number can end up costing a company about $150 to $250 per person and when thousands of cards are stolen, the company has to pay for legal fees and refunds to customers, plus the cost of improving security. These costs are then passed on to shoppers. Victims of identity theft may get their money back, but in the end we all pay for the identity thieves thanks to higher-priced products.

Common Identity Theft Tactics

New accounts are one way in which an identity thief can hurt a consumer. Identity thieves can find your personal information and open a handful of new accounts in your name, then they open credit cards or apply for personal loans in your name. You can try to close the accounts and focus on getting them settled, but some consumers are often stuck paying the bill. In total, fraud costs Americans billions of dollars. Signing up with a credit monitoring service will alert you of any suspicious activity on your credit report.

Resolving Fraud

It is important to shop around and find a trustworthy bank to invest your money with. Do they have security protection measures in place? What will they do if your checking and savings accounts are hacked? Read through their policies relating to identity theft so you can be sure that you are going to be taken care of. The average person will spend at least 37 hours dealing with the outcome of an account takeover fraud scheme. While many larger merchants can repay customers and resolve identity theft matters quickly, smaller retailers aren’t so lucky. Unfortunately hackers have begun targeting smaller companies with less advanced security systems, stealing vital customer information.

Remember, be careful when shopping online, and be careful when using a credit card. Monthly credit monitoring is one of the best things you can do to protect yourself from becoming another victim of identity theft.

Byline

Jay Buchanan is a freelance writer who typically writes on legal topics such as Criminal Defense, Intellectual Property, Personal Injury, Ancient Legal Codes and other areas as well.

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