In 2013, there were 13 million Americans who had their identities stolen, and according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, you are 500 times more likely to have your identity stolen than your purse. You protect your wallet by carrying it with you and keeping it away from strangers, right? It’s just as important to keep an eye on your information.
Despite how often it occurs, there are many misconceptions about identity theft. It’s important to stay informed so that you can protect your identity and enjoy peace of mind. Here are the top myths about id theft that you should be aware of:
- Consumers are protected from financial loss: According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, only 24 percent of victims suffer no direct financial loss, and the average instance of identity theft costs individuals $1,400 in out-of-pocket expenses. This is often because some banks fail to reimburse customers of ATM fraud or extensive debit card use.
- Debit cards work the same as credit cards: It’s much safer to use your credit card for online shopping and to complete transactions with unverified retailers. Credit card liability is capped at $50, whereas liability for fraudulent debit card charges can be unlimited if you fail to report the crime within 60 days. If an identity thief gains access to your debit card, he or she can clean out your checking and savings account. With access to a credit card, on the other hand, the criminal will be spending the bank’s money and not yours.
- Identity theft is easily resolved: This is, unfortunately, untrue. Identity theft is a complicated crime that sometimes takes years to completely eradicate. The Federal Trade Commission estimates that recovery from id theft requires an average of six months and 200 hours of work. This is because closing fraudulent lines of credit, reversing false tax return filings and clearing medical procedures that were charged under your health insurance account are time-consuming activities. Additionally, victims are often targeted repeatedly because thieves sell the acquired information to other criminals.
- Online shopping is perfectly safe: Nowadays, thieves don’t necessarily have to go dumpster diving to get ahold of your personal information like Social Security and credit card numbers. Stay aware of what information you’re using online and never access secure data over a public WiFi network. It’s relatively easy for hackers to enter your device through a public network.
- The police will take care of identity theft: Most cases of identity theft are not prosecuted, although it is a good idea to file a report so that a record of the crime exists on file. Unfortunately, it’s a very difficult incident for the police to investigate.
If you’re worried about identity theft, you can take certain precautions to protect yourself. For instance, sign up for a credit monitoring service that will notify you of certain activities that could indicate fraud. This way, you’ll be able to enjoy peace of mind no matter what.