You run out to your mailbox and walk back into your home with a handful of letters, magazines, and junk flyers. You thumb through the pile, quickly skimming for anything interesting, and see what looks like a bill from a hospital — a hospital you have never been to that isn’t even in your state.
You rip open the letter and it is, in fact, a bill — a bill for thousands of dollars — in your name. You call the hospital, telling them there must be a mistake, but they aren’t interested. Suddenly, it dawns on you: someone stole your identity, used it to seek treatment, and left you to foot the bill. But who would do this to you? And how did they get your personal information in the first place?
Unfortunately, the story above is more common than you think— an identity is stolen every two seconds in our country. Some people have an idea about who used their information, or how they got ahold of it, but many don’t.
- According to the most recent government report, 68 percent of identity theft victims didn’t know how the thief obtained their information.
- Of those victims who were in the dark, 92 percent didn’t know anything about the identity of the thief.
- Like in the story above, 45 percent of the victims who didn’t know how the thief obtained their information also had no clue that their identity had been stolen until a financial institution contacted them.
A less-than-ideal trade-off? If a victim experienced multiple types of identity theft during a single incident, they were more likely to know something about the identity of the thief and how they obtained their personal information. That doesn’t mean, however, they had an easy time fixing the problem. The Bureau of Justice Statistics notes that among victims who experienced multiple types of identity theft, 32 percent spent a month or more resolving problems. That’s a lot of time and effort that most people have no desire to deal with.
The best way to help prevent identity theft (and all of the trouble that comes along with it)? Open your eyes. Identity thieves are everywhere — they are like shadows lurking behind you at the ATM, on your home computer, and picking through your trash. Once you make the conscious decision to acknowledge their existence, you can take deliberate steps to avoid them and protect your personal information.
[tweetthis display_mode=”box”]The best way to help prevent #IdentityTheft? Open your eyes.[/tweetthis]
Want to learn more about ways you may be exposing yourself to identity theft and how you can stay safe? Take a look at our infographic that addresses how two-thirds are clueless about identity theft.