Protect Yourself Against Theft and Fraud – Don’t Become a Statistic!
The statistics are staggering and sobering. Some 15 million Americans have their identities stolen and are victims of fraud each year. Financial losses tied to identity theft have been estimated north of $50 billion.
To bring it even closer to home, the prevailing statistics reveal that in the neighborhood of 7% of all adults have their identities misused in one fashion or another. Each case of identity theft and fraud has been estimated to yield an average of $3,500 in losses.
Identity theft has been dubbed the most frequent, costly and pervasive crime in the U.S. Targets include credit, debit, checking and savings accounts. Some of the basic tactics still remain such as the stealing of wallets and purses; dumpster diving, the stealing of mail; and “pretext” calling aimed at the securing of personal information.
The level of sophistication of identity thieves only increases every day. Identity theft now touches such items as cellphone service, gas and electric services, medical insurance, home mortgages and rental housing and government benefits to name a few.
The Cold, Hard Facts
The web site www.statisticbrain.com, using data from the U.S. Department of Justice and Javelin Strategy & Research, reports the following reported identity thefts by type of fraud:
– Misuse of existing credit card: 64.1%
– Misuse of other existing bank account: 35%
– Misuse of personal information: 14.2%
The “head of household” demographic that experiences the highest percentage of fraud inside a particular age range is the 18-24 age range. Somewhat surprisingly, the lowest percentage was found in the 65+ age range.
The states with the highest identity theft rate (victims per 100,000) are:
– Arizona (149)
– California (139.1)
– Florida (133.3)
– Texas (130.3)
– Nevada (126)
Credit unions develop comprehensive written privacy protection policies and train staff on the credit union’s security measures, limit data collection to that which is necessary, and restrict access to sensitive personal data and much more. You also should take steps to both ward off identity theft and to respond should you believe your identity has been stolen.
The NCUA has also offered tips if you believe someone has stolen your identity, including:
– Contact the fraud department of the major credit bureaus.
– Request a free copy of your credit report.
– Review your report to make sure no additional fraudulent accounts have been opened in your name or changes made to existing accounts.
– Contact your credit union and let them know you think you may be an identity theft victim. Advise them what action you would like them to take (closing account, reissuance of credit and ATM cards etc.).
– File a report with your local police department.
– Contact the Federal Trade Commission’s Identity Theft Hotline toll-free at 1-877-ID-THEFT.