Identity Theft Can Happen to You

If you think that identity theft can never happen to you, think again. Just take a look at statistics concerning identity theft, and you can see that the crime of identity theft is closer to you than you may realize.

According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), identity theft affects as many as 10 million Americans each year. Nearly 5% of the people living in the US will become an identity theft victim and the numbers are increasing each year. The FTC even reported that they currently received nearly 40% more identity theft complaints than the previous year. What is more alarming is that identity theft costs businesses and financial institutions nearly $53 billion annually.

The most common types of identity theft are credit card frauds, communications service fraud, bank fraud and loan fraud. Credit card fraud is when someone else uses your credit or uses your personal data to apply for a credit card. Meanwhile, communications service fraud deals with someone opening a cell phone or utility services account using your information without your knowledge. For bank fraud, a common scam is the thief opens up a checking account using your identity and then proceeds to write bogus checks.

For years, identity thieves get valuable personal information through stealing mail, snatching purses, or searching garbage for discarded bank statements or credit card receipts. With rapid technological advancement, most identity thieves now employ phishing. Statistics reveal phishing to be the most dangerous of all identity thefts as it uses both social engineering and technical subterfuge.

Phishing is when the victim receives an email that appears to be from a bank or other financial institution. The victim is then told to click a link and verify his/her account information or supply personal identity data. The victim believes the link to be a legitimate site when in fact the identity thief now uses the victim's data to gain access to account information and empty the bank account. Phishers can also take out credit cards in the victim's name, and steal ISP account information.

According to the latest findings of the research group Gartner, close to 60 million Americans reported receiving a phishing email, and about 1.7 million people have been victims, costing banks and credit card companies approximately $1.2 billion in losses.

All these figures and information about identity theft are definitely alarming. To avoid being the next identity theft statistic, it's better to take measures to protect yourself against identity theft like keeping your personal information private, subscribing to an identity theft service, and many more. These are just simple steps that take only a few moments of your time. These few moments are indeed worth the while considering you can either spend countless hours trying to manage the damage done by identity theft.