Identity theft is the fastest growing crime in America. In 2010, the total loss attributed to identity theft was $13.2 billion. In 2012, the loss was $21 billion.
According to the FFC, the number of identity theft incidents has reached 9.9 million a year, about 19 every minute. Even worse, studies show that it’s becoming more common for someone close to the victim to be the thief. In 32% of identity theft cases, a family member or relative was responsible for stealing the identity. Another 18% were victimized by friend, neighbor, or in-home employee. The average loss per incident is $4,930.
The moral of the story is, be careful about giving out personal information. If someone calls you asking for such information, be very suspicious. If you make the call, such as to your bank, it’s probably okay (and necessary) to give out the information.
Just as important is to be careful what you post on Facebook and other sites. So many security questions that institution and various sites ask, such things as mother’s maiden name, the name of your first pet, or the street you grew up on, are routinely mentioned on FB, and con artists can use such information to gain access to your life. (Only 28% of identity theft cases involve credit or financial fraud. Phone, utility, bank and employment fraud make up another 50% of the cases.)
And of course, you know that you’re supposed to use passwords and PIN numbers that are not easy to guess or are not recorded anywhere.
One thing no one mentions is “liking” pages on Facebook or even off Facebook. I’ve liked things and then never been able to unlike them, and forever after, those products or programs are linked to me. “Liking” has become entwined in the whole marketing milieu, letting your friends and fans (and potential victimizers) know more about you than you ever wanted them to know.
Of course, I have nothing of any monetary value, so I doubt anyone would ever care to steal, but still, I try to be careful.
Makes me wonder — what if someone had their identity stolen, and it turned out to be a good thing for them. Could be an interesting story.
Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.