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Dec 21, 201503:58 PMOpen Mic

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Protect yourself against identity theft

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If you are concerned about identity theft and the potential for financial losses as a result you have lots of company — but maybe not enough.

A recent survey by Bankrate.com found that many Americans have little to no fear of identity theft, despite a number of significant data breaches in recent years at companies like Target and Home Depot. That could spell disaster for people who are not taking steps to safeguard their financial accounts and other sensitive personal information.

According to the Bankrate Money Pulse Survey in October 2015, 54% of respondents said they are very or somewhat frightened of identity theft, compared with 80% in a similar survey in 2008. And 46% of respondents said they or somebody they know has been a victim of identity theft, up from 34% in 2008.

However, 43% of respondents said they had little to no fear, compared with 19% in 2008. Although the level of concern appears to have decreased, the incidence of identity theft and fraud has not.

There is a new identity fraud victim every two seconds, according to the 2015 Identity Fraud Survey, conducted annually by Javelin Strategy & Research, a California firm that has tracked identity theft for more than a decade. Identity fraud is defined as the unauthorized use of a person’s personal information for illicit financial gain. Examples are taking control of existing financial accounts or opening new accounts, using a stolen credit or debit card account, or fraudulent purchases.

According to the Javelin study, $16 billion was stolen from 12.7 million identity fraud victims in the U.S. in 2014, compared with 12.5 million in 2008. The survey is the nation’s longest-running study of identity fraud, with 58,800 respondents since 2003. LifeLock, Inc., a provider of proactive identity theft protection services for individuals and businesses, provided partial funding for the survey.


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