Your life gets hacked: 10% Americans are victims of identity theft with a loss of $ 17.5 billion

Getting your life hacked: 10% of Americans are victims of identity theft or fraud – totaling $ 17.5 billion in losses, government data

  • An estimated 26 million Americans were victims of identity theft or fraud in 2016
  • This is equivalent to 10 percent of all US residents who are 16 years or older – an increase of 7 percent who experienced identity theft or fraud in 2014
  • It cost victims in 2016 alone a collective $ 17.5 billion, according to data from the government

Valerie Bauman Social Affairs Reporter for Dailymail.com

An estimated 26 million Americans were victims of identity theft or fraud – the victims in 2016 cost 17.5 billion dollars, the most recent year for which government data was available.

This corresponds to 10 percent of all US residents who are 16 years or older – an increase of 7 percent who experienced identity theft or fraud in 2014, according to a new report from the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

Among IDA and fraud victims, 12 percent had a loss of $ 1 or more, while 88 percent had no or minimal losses – and 55 percent said they could solve the problem in one day or less.

This chart illustrates how many people experienced different types of identity theft and fraud in 2016. Note: some people were victims of more than one type of crime

This chart illustrates how many people experienced different types of identity theft and fraud in 2016. Note: some people were victims of more than one type of crime

White people were most likely victims (12 percent), compared with 7 percent of African Americans, 6 percent of Hispanics and 8 percent of other races.

High earners were also the most likely victims, with 35 percent of the victims earning $ 75,000 or more per year.

A majority (85 percent) of identity theft and fraud victims said that the most recent crime against them was the abuse (or attempted abuse) of only one type of existing account, usually a credit card or bank account.

About 10 percent of the victims said they had serious emotional problems due to the crimes – especially those who had to spend weeks or months trying to resolve the theft of their identity.

Online security analyst Robert Siciliano told DailyMail.com that the distinction between credit card fraud and identity theft is crucial when looking at national numbers.

In the first half of 2018, 945 data leaks resulted in 4.5 billion data records worldwide being compromised, according to a October 2018 report from the digital security company Gemalto. (file photo)

In the first half of 2018, 945 data leaks resulted in 4.5 billion data records worldwide being compromised, according to a October 2018 report from the digital security company Gemalto. (file photo)

In the first half of 2018, 945 data leaks resulted in 4.5 billion data records worldwide being compromised, according to a October 2018 report from the digital security company Gemalto. (file photo)

Identity theft is when someone has access to your citizen service number to access new accounts in your name, while credit card or bank card fraud is when someone tries to make purchases with your account information.

How to prevent identity theft

Online security analyst Robert Siciliano shares six tips to prevent identity theft and fraud.

Credit Freeze: Although it is usually a step after theft has occurred, Siciliano says: "A credit-freeze is that proactive tool that prevents the bad guy from entering your identity. & # 39;

Digital security: Ensure that all electronic devices contain a complete package of digital protection, including anti-virus, anti-phishing, antispyware software and a firewall.

VPN: A virtual private network is software that encrypts your connection and allows you to safely use open and public Wi-Fi networks.

Tech Updates: When your cell phone or computer encourages you to update your software – do it, Siciliano says, adding: & # 39; When you update an operating system, it is because there are vulnerabilities and they can be misused if you do not # 39; updates & # 39 ;.

Two-factor authentication: Create your accounts where possible to require two sign-ups. This usually means that you do not have access to the account in addition to entering a password without first entering a code that you receive by text message or e-mail. • That way, if someone gets your password, they will not be able to access your account because they do not have your cell phone, & # 39; Siciliano said.

Password protection: Do not use the same password for multiple accounts – this is one of the most common high-risk activities people do online, according to Siciliano. Instead of memorizing dozens of random combinations of letters and numbers, he suggests using a password manager – software that keeps track of your passwords and protects them for every account you use.

Siciliano said the first is the real problem – and for many Americans it is only a matter of time until they experience it as a result of the billions of people affected by the data breaches of large companies over the last three years.

These include the 143 million people affected by the data disruption in 2017 and the 500 million people affected by the Marriott's breach in 2018. In the first half of 2018, 945 data leaks resulted in 4.5 billion data records worldwide. affected, according to a October 2018 report from the digital security company Gemalto.

& # 39; Our data is currently in the hands of identity thieves, it is there that there is mediation on the market, "he said. & # 39; It is only a matter of time. Do not wait until something bad happens to do something about it. & # 39;

He said there are a number of basic steps that anyone can take to make themselves dramatically safer from identity thieves.

Siciliano proposes to freeze your credit report to prevent someone else from opening new accounts on your behalf.

Although it is usually a step after theft has occurred, Siciliano says: "A credit-freeze is that proactive tool that prevents the bad guy from entering your identity."

Another step is to ensure that all electronic devices have a complete package of digital security, including anti-virus, anti-phishing, antispyware software and a firewall.

Even with those measures, Siciliano urges people to use VPN (virtual private network) software to connect to the Internet when using an open or public Wi-Fi network.

& # 39; A VPN basically encrypts your data & # 39 ;, he said.

In the end, everyone can become a victim – and with the prevalence of data leaks it is everyone's duty to take some basic steps to protect themselves in the modern world, according to Siciliano.

"Digital literacy is not part of our experience in this culture," he said. & # 39; We just do not want to think about it.

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