Identity theft continues to hold our attention – and rightly so. Here are some recent stats from SpendOnLife.com that bear consideration:
- There were 10 million victims of identity theft in 2008 in the United States
- Households with incomes higher than $70,000 were twice as likely to experience identity theft than those with salaries under $50,000
- Online methods accounted for only 11% of ID theft
- Stolen wallets and physical paperwork account for almost half (43%) of all identity theft
- More than 35 million data records were compromised in corporate and government data breaches in 2008
- 43% of victims knew the perpetrator
- In cases of child identity theft, the most common perpetrator is the child’s parent
- 38-48% discover their identity has been stolen within three months, but 9-18% of victims don’t discover problem for four or more years
- The mean cost per victim is $500
6 steps to reduce your risk of identity theft and deal with the aftermath
- Everyone above the age of 14 needs to actively monitor his or her credit history. You have the right to one FREE credit disclosure in a twelve-month period from each of the three national credit reporting companies—TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax. The easiest way to get these reports is through AnnualCreditReport.com, a service created by these three credit institutions specifically to help consumers get free annual reports. You can also pay credit monitoring services to watch your account for you.
- Consider if you want all, part, or none of your information viewable in online directory searches. It usually costs money to keep your information private (often referred to as a privacy tax) but the few dollars it costs may be well worth it to you.
- If your identity has been stolen, contact your bank(s) and other financial institutions immediately. Contact local law enforcement and file a report. Contact your insurance company. Freeze your credit with the three credit reporting companies listed above.
- If you are a victim of identity theft, go to the FTC’s Identity Theft Web site to get information about additional steps you may need to take.
- If your reputation or images have been stolen, contact the Web site where the abuse occurred and where the material is displayed. They should work with you to take it down and discipline the offender.
- Identity theft victims should alert their friends and family. Your identity theft means friends and family may also be affected, depending on the information stolen or abused.
Click to read the full data set.