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Posted on October 1, 2014 by in Identity & Privacy, Personal

If you’re on high alert because of the many breaches in credit card security and consumer data recently, it’s not without merit. Just check out the latest identity theft statistics.

You’ve heard, of course, about the Home Depot data breach, and the patient records breach at Community Health Systems. And, who could forget about the great Target hack of 2013? I think it’s safe to say that we’re all more cautious than ever about how our personal data is being used.

It doesn’t just feel like there are more data breaches than previous years. In fact, in 2013 alone, 13.1 million consumers were the target of identity fraud. That’s the second highest on record (and it means that somebody’s identity is stolen every two seconds)!

Check out some of the other eye-opening identity theft statistics from Javelin’s 2014 Identity Fraud Report:

  • 44% of all fraud involved online transactions
  • Frauds involving utility services (electric bills, gas bills) and mobile devices increased three-fold
  • 1 in 3 people who received data breach notifications became victims of identity fraud (up from 1 in 4 in 2012 and 1 in 5 in 2011)
  • 46% of consumers with breached credit card data became fraud victims
  • 16% of consumers with exposed social security numbers became victims of fraud

In addition, if we consider the 4.5 million emails and passwords exposed by Russian hackers this month, 2014 is cruising towards setting another record.

It’s enough to make you want to close all of your bank accounts and keep your money in a shoebox, isn’t it?

Except we all know that’s just not an option. To be a thriving member of society, credit cards, smartphones and email addresses are necessary. But there are things you can do to protect yourself.

The FTC recommends that you remember to SHRED:

  • Strengthen passwords: create passwords that include at least eight characters, numbers, letters, and symbols.
  • Handle personal identifying information with care:don’t give out personal information unless absolutely necessary. Be especially cautious with your Social Security Number; only provide it for tax purposes or employment verification.
  • Read credit reports annually: use a verified credit report service to regularly monitor your credit and ensure that nobody has opened accounts in your name.
  • Empty your purse/wallet:Only carry what you need and never carry your social security card.
  • Discuss these tips with your friends: keep your friends and family safe too! Share these tips with them.

And remember that there are ways to monitor your credit and data without obsessing over your email and bank accounts all day, every day. IdentityForce is more than just your go-to source for identity safety tips. We’re also a trusted source of credit and identity monitoring: check out our UltraSecure+Credit service to learn more about the services we provide, so you can get back to living your life (and retire that shoebox).  Don’t become another identity theft statistic, protect yourself today.

Image courtesy of Flickr user Simon Cunningham.