Personal Security

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The Importance of Safe Guarding Personal Information

Identity theft is a serious problem worldwide. This crime flourishes when thieves are given access to your personal information, allowing them to commit crimes under your name or spend your money unbeknownst to you. You may be under the impression that identity theft could never happen to you. You may be careful with whom you give your Social Security number to, or diligent about changing up your passwords for the sake of safety. However, identity thieves are getting smarter about how they access your information. The statistics revolving around identity theft are disconcerting, but with a better understanding of how these crimes continue to be committed, we can help lower the rate of identity theft and prevent ourselves from becoming another statistic. 1. Odds Against You

The United States Department of Justice states that in 2010, 7% of all United States households had at least one member of the family at or over the age of 12 who has been a victim of some sort of identity theft. That means the odds are greatly against you. Identity theft sets the government, American citizens, and businesses back by billions of dollars each year. From 2005 to 2010, 64.1% of these instances involved credit card fraud, the fastest growing type of identity theft. Over the range of this time period, credit card misuse was doubled as the determining factor in identity theft. 2. Grave Robbing

According to Time Magazine, 2.5 million dead people get their identities stolen every year. Studies conducted by ID Analytics have shown that identity thieves have been applying for credit cards under the names of the deceased, opening up clean credit lines, new cell phone services, and in a staggering 1.6 million cases, using Social Security numbers previously belonging to dead people. This can be devastating for family members of the deceased who have been left to manage his or her estate. More than 2,000 identities of corpses per day are assumed by these fraudsters. 3. Social Media Fraud

With a 13% increase in identity fraud between 2010 and 2011, a study conducted by Javelin Strategy & Research showed that consumers may be putting themselves at a higher risk for identity theft as a result of their increasingly intimate social media behaviors. Sixty-eight percent of people with public social media profiles on platforms such as Facebook or Twitter shared their birthday information with 45% of them getting into specifics about the exact month, day, and year. Sixty-three percent shared where exactly they attended high school. Eighteen percent shared their phone number and 12% shared their pet’s name. Not only are all of these details typically asked when verifying an identity, but people also frequently use them in passwords. The statistics are clear — people are giving away far too much personal information on social networking sites, allowing for fraudsters to easily steal their identities. 4. Medical Identity Theft

According to the findings from a study conducted by the Federal Trade Commission, 19,428 complaints regarding medical identity theft have been reported to the Consumer Sentinel Database since January 1, 1992. Prior to that, medical-related identity theft was not documented, so there may have been many more instances of it that simply went unreported. Likewise, the number of medical identity theft victims rose from 1.6% in 2001 to 1.8% in 2005. Medical identity theft can be distressing to its victims, who often incur charges for medical care they didn’t even receive after their computerized medical records are stolen. A large chunk of these victims experienced raised premiums as a result of medical identity theft, with almost half losing coverage entirely. Medical identity theft is more of an insider crime, as it is typically done by a health care professional. It may be committed by doctors, nurses, lab technicians, and others associated with the hospital....
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