The 2014 Identity Fraud report, just released by Javelin Strategy & Research and sponsored, in part, by Intersections Inc. found that more than 13 million U.S. adults fell victim to identity fraud in 2013; an increase of 500,000 from 2012. This increase in number of victims is the greatest in three years since the study began eleven years ago.
The report also found data breaches to be one of the greatest risk factors, as nearly one in three consumers who received data breach notification letters became a victim of identity fraud.
"Fact-based studies like this demonstrate the importance of consumers, financial institutions, and service providers coming together as partners in the fight against identity fraud,” said Steve Schwartz, President, Identity Guard®. "The continued increase in victims and data breaches is a cause for concern for both consumers and businesses. We must partner together; continuously enhancing our existing capabilities and providing the tools and resources to help consumers protect their information."
Follow these tips to help guide you in protecting your personal information.
- Think Twice Before Sharing Sensitive Information. Exposing common information like birthdates and addresses puts you at greater risk, as this type of information is commonly used by financial institutions for identity verification in order to access accounts. This type of seemingly harmless information could be valuable to experienced identity thieves. Before providing this information, ask why it's needed and how it will be protected.
- Be Social, But Be Smart. Knowing that social networks are a hotbed for identity fraud activity, you should take extra caution when deciding whom to connect with and what applications to download. Users who approve friend requests from strangers and use GPS/location based applications are generally more susceptible to fraud.
- Take Caution When Using Mobile Devices. The convenience of online and mobile banking is here to stay, but take the extra step to ensure your network connection is secure and your devices have updated security. Never access your banking information through public Wi-Fi. Instead, use your carrier's cellular service.
- Be an Active Party in Detection. Identity fraud is more than just the misuse of credit card information. Take advantage of a comprehensive identity protection service like IDENTITY GUARD® TOTAL PROTECTION®, which not only monitors credit reports, but also scans public records and online activity for signs of fraudulent use of personal information.
- Act Quickly. The sooner you learn of the fraud, the sooner your road to recovery can begin, improving the likelihood your losses will be reduced. Remain alert and act quickly in the event you notice suspicious activity, by reporting it to your financial institutions and local law enforcement immediately.