The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently released their 2012 Annual Highlights report looking at the FTC’s work to protect consumer privacy, among other areas. The report shows that identity theft was the top consumer complaint in 2011, accounting for 17% or 287,232 complaints of the 1.8 million complaints received. There were 990,242 cases of fraud in 2011 – that’s 7 times more fraud complaints than there were 10 years ago. Identity theft and fraud affect all age groups, though identity theft is highest among the 20-29 age group.
How can you avoid being a victim of identity theft?
- be aware of how information is stolen and what it’s used for
- shred any documents that contain your personal information (even credit card offers!)
- don’t carry your Social Security number with you
- don’t give out personal information on the phone, via mail or on the Internet
- be wary of public Wi-Fi connections
- don’t click on links in unsolicited emails
- use an updated antivirus program
- use a strong password or make use of a password manager
- keep your personal information secure at home
- ensure online transactions are with trusted sites with secure connections
- don’t post personal information (address, birth day) on any social network
- use a laptop recovery service like ours to remotely lock or delete sensitive information
Keep an eye on your financial accounts and billing statements to detect any fraudulent activity and request a credit report on a yearly basis to make sure your information remains accurate. Hopefully these tips will help you from becoming an identity theft victim!