In a recent study of American fears, more than 37% of those surveyed ranked identity theft as something they fear. More than one-third of the population may seem significant, but the reality is that we should ALL be aware of identity theft risks and take the necessary steps to protect ourselves and our families.
As technology advances to keep your personal information secure, so does the intelligence and technology of those seeking to access it maliciously. The threat continues to increase exponentially, outpacing the solutions designed to combat it. The financial impact can be significant, but the personal impact can take an even greater toll, ripping through an entire family — from children to spouses to grandparents — no one is immune. Compounding the stress is the time and energy needed to reverse the damage, coupled with the emotional trauma from someone taking control of the one thing most personal to you — your identity.
Here are a few ways identity theft is happening right now:
- Digital Identity Theft | You’ve probably heard of phishing—but what about vishing? Or SMShing? How about skimming, pharming, or social engineering? These are just a few of the never-ending array of techniques that criminals are using to steal identities every single day. It’s a good idea to try and stay up-to-date on the most common identity theft risks, as well as up-and-coming tactics that could become bigger problems.
- Synthetic: The Frankenstein of Identity Theft | One rising form of identity theft is called synthetic identity theft; some reports say that synthetic identity fraud now accounts for 85% of all identity fraud in the U.S., costing an estimated $2 billion a year. What is synthetic identity theft? Using a combination of your real personal information and fake information, thieves create a Frankenstein identity of sorts. Then, they take this new identity and try to do things like:
- Apply for credit cards and even a new job
- Open bank accounts
- Obtain driver’s licenses and passports
- Secure a mortgage
- Finance a new car
Criminals engaging in synthetic identity theft often seek out social security numbers of individuals who don’t make use of credit—people like children and the elderly—because that makes it easier to fly under the radar before anyone ever figures out what happened. However, just because you don’t fall into one of those categories doesn’t mean you’re safe; according to the lead data scientist for the Verizon Breach Report, 60% to 80% of Social Security numbers are estimated to have been stolen by hackers.
Identity theft risks are everywhere and can happen to anyone, but there are several factors that can lead to higher fraud statistics in different parts of the U.S. For example, Florida is home to a large population of retirees who are often targets of medical identity theft, bill collection scams, and tax identity theft. Residents of any state, however, can quickly become part of the identity theft statistics.
If you or someone you love has ever experienced identity theft, you understand what a stressful and potentially costly experience it can be.
- 36% of identity theft victims reported moderate or severe emotional distress
- 66% experienced direct financial losses
- Victims spent 33 to 600+ hours on average to restore their identity
Although the risk of identity theft continues to grow exponentially, having access to a 24/7 identity theft protection service — like IdentityForce—can help give you peace of mind. By receiving an early warning with rapid notification when your personal information is at risk, you are better equipped to proactively address the criminal activity.
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Would you like to learn more about how identity theft happens and how to help prevent it? Download our new eBook, Protecting What Matters Most: Insights, Trends, and Perspectives on Protecting Your Digital World, featuring over 50 research and industry reports, along with some of IdentityForce’s own primary research—all within just 6 pages.