In order to effectively protect yourself from identity theft, you first need to understand what you are up against. Unfortunately, this crime can occur in many different ways and can never be entirely prevented. However, once you have a better understanding of how it happens, you can start taking steps to minimize your likelihood of becoming a victim.
Defining the crime
So what is identity theft? Identity theft can occur anytime your personal information is leaked, stolen or otherwise compromised, which can often happen without your knowledge. Thieves who steal your personal information usually intend to use it to commit identity fraud, although this is not always the case. Sometimes criminals will steal your information in order to sell it to other criminals, often through black market websites. According to the Social Security Administration (SSA), ID theft is one of the fastest-growing crimes in America.*
How common is it?
The 2013 Identity Fraud Report released by Javelin Strategy & Research offers some insight into how common the crime actually is. The Fraud Report featured the following key statistics:**
While identity theft statistics can provide a better idea of how widespread and detrimental the crime is, they paint only part of the picture. These statistics do not reflect the amount of time and emotional stress that is associated with becoming a victim.
Read through the resource pages on IdentityTheftProtection.org and learn more about how you can protect yourself from this crime.
*Social Security Administration. “Identity Theft And Your Social Security Number.” SSA Publication No. 05-10064. August 2012.
**How Consumers can Protect Against Identity Fraudsters in 2013. Javelin Strategy & Research. February 2013.