According to the FTC study, identity theft was the most common consumer complaint in 2014, and it was at the top of the list for the 15th year in a row. Identity theft accounted for 13 percent of the 2.6 million complaints filed with the commission, national consumer protection groups, state and federal law enforcement agencies, and nonprofit organizations, with debt collection and imposter schemes accounting for 11 percent each.
Misusing official documents and information was the most prevalent approach for criminals to impersonate someone else. However, identity theft has fallen in popularity, accounting for 46 percent of all complaints in 2012 compared to 39 percent in 2014. Instead, credit card fraud has become a more widespread identity theft, accounting for 17% of all complaints in 2012 and 17% in 2014.
According to the FTC, because they are more likely to be regularly employed and utilize credit cards, Americans older than 20 and younger than 60 are most in danger of being impersonated by a fraudster.
The most significant consumer complaints were filed in Florida, with 200,000 for fraud and other offenses and 37,059 for identity theft. The state with the second-highest number of identity theft complaints, 10,930, was followed by Oregon, Missouri, and Georgia.
Georgia was one of the states where there appeared to be an increase in potentially fraudulent tax returns submitted using the TurboTax program. A popular Journal stated that the FBI opened an inquiry last month into whether a data breach cleared the way for scam artists seeking to steal tax refunds.
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Like many other cybersecurity issues, identity theft may frequently be avoided by practicing better online habits to safeguard your personal data.
Sharing government information such as Social Security numbers online, outside of a secure site for a legal provider such as a bank, makes it simpler for fraudsters to gain and misuse credentials. Furthermore, adverts on the internet or emails promising offers that seem too good to be accurate are frequently frauds aimed to trick individuals into divulging personal information.
Tax returns are also a popular target for internet fraudsters, so be aware of firms that promise to make submitting a return simple, especially if they offer mobile or tablet apps with questionable privacy or security practices. Before employing a tax preparation service, the FTC advises doing extensive research.
Identity theft can also be avoided by shredding correspondence such as tax documents once they are no longer needed, and by putting a credit freeze in place, which prevents people from accessing your credit report or opening an account without your permission, you can prevent information from being misused if your wallet falls into the wrong hands.