Most people think that identity theft is not a common occurrence and that the damage is usually limited to a few fraudulent credit card charges. However, the truth is that identity theft is costly, both to the victim and society at large. With this in mind, here is a short article detailing the scope and cost of identity theft.
Identity Theft Statistics
Every year, millions of people experience identity theft; in 2012, losses totaled almost 25 billion dollars. When averaged out on a per-victim basis, that is almost $1,500. As this problem worsens, it is likely to approach 50 billion in the near future as organized crime rings and other criminals exploit a broken system. Of course, most people don’t fully understand what this all means and what types of identity theft exist.Now, the most common way to steal someone’s identity is to simply steal his or her card or bank account information. Then, with this info, it’s possible to spend money online or head to a retail store and use the card or bank account. This is a scary position, especially for someone who doesn’t have a lot of money. Most victims find out about the problem when it is too late.
Credit card companies will usually call the consumer and inform him or her of the discrepancy. However, if a smart consumer calls up the credit card company when he or she notices any charges or a missing card, they can help their cause drastically.Other times, the theft is more elaborate when a person steals the identity and applies for credit cards and loans. This is a serious problem that costs the company and the individual plenty of cash. At this point, one is looking at losses in the thousands of dollars. When this happens, the police will get involved, and a person will have to spend plenty of hours fixing his or her good name.
Identity Theft is a Real Problem
Generally, people tend to think that identity theft is not a problem for most. This could not be further from the truth. While one individual may escape problems, it’s hard for one to avoid all the issues. Even if you are safe and take extra precautions, you are bound to slip up. Think about it, when taking out recycling, using an ATM card in a public place or simply heading to the grocery store, a consumer is vulnerable. For this reason, no matter how safe and secure you think you are, you need to take more steps and know how to protect your identity. Otherwise, you are one minor mistake away from having your identity stolen.
In reality, if you are worried about having your identity stolen, you will want to take common sense steps such as being careful with your cards and shredding your statements and personal financial information. However, to take it further, smart consumers must monitor their score, watch their bank accounts and report any suspicious activity to their creditors. When doing this and taking a proactive approach, one can avoid most issues and will not fall victim to a hacker or thief.
Without a doubt, when looking at the identity theft problem, it’s obvious that it’s not getting better any time soon. No, in fact, the problem is only worsening as people from all over the country are finding out. For this reason, no matter your financial status and age, you need to understand why it’s important to follow your credit profile and avoid issues in the first place. Remember, this is a huge problem that causes drastic problems for people all over the country.