Identity theft affects more than just your finances
Identity theft goes beyond just stealing money, it happens when someone fraudulently uses your personally identifiable information for their gain.
Identify theft happens when someone fraudulently uses your personally identifiable information for their personal or financial gain. In 2022, more than 40 million U.S. consumers were victims of identity theft, resulting in over $52 billion stolen from Americans1. Having your identity stolen may cost you more than money.
Identity theft takes a toll.
Having your identity stolen creates additional challenges beyond potential financial losses. Other significant losses, according to the Identity Theft Resource Center2, are:
It takes considerable time and effort to resolve the issues created when your identity is stolen, including shutting down credit cards and bank accounts, dealing with credit score bureaus to clear your name, and countless other concerns. In fact, in 2022, nearly one in five victims (17%) spent six to 12 months resolving their identity theft incident and more than one-third (37%) of 2021 victims had not resolved their issue after a year.2
Victims of identity theft become more worried and fearful following the theft. Stress levels soar and trust declines. In 2022, four out of five victims said their worry and anxiety increased because of an identity theft incident, and more than half (55%) reported suffering a loss of trust.2
The effects can be physical, affecting sleep and general health. In 2022, 90% of identity theft victims said they had sleep problems, and 40% suffered persistent aches, pains, or headaches after the incident.
What you can do
Fortunately, there are steps you can take to make identity theft less likely to happen.
Password-protect your devices. Use strong passwords, including a long mix of letters, numbers, and symbols.
Set up multi-factor authentication. Multi-factor authentication significantly enhances the security of digital accounts and systems by adding an additional layer of protection beyond just using a strong password.
Sign up for bank alerts. You will be notified by email, text message, or phone call if your bank suspects fraudulent activity has occurred on your account. Your bank may also offer no-cost fraud monitoring services.
Review your credit report regularly. You can get a free copy of your credit report from major credit bureaus, including Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. You may also be able to monitor your credit through your financial institution or personal financial apps.
Evaluate what you share on social media. Many people share information, such as the names of their children and pets, or other personal information they also often use as passwords. When available, opt-in to double authentication for your social media platforms.
Shred sensitive documents. Not all identity theft occurs online. Physical documents, including bank and credit card statements, invoices, old photos, and IDs can provide valuable information for identity thieves. Shredding documents makes it harder to access your personal information.
Use antivirus software. Given online activities like shopping and banking, plenty of your sensitive financial data is potentially at risk. Installing antivirus software on your computer or tablet can detect and protect against viruses and spyware.
Keep personal documents in a secure place. Make sure that documents with highly sensitive personal information, such as Social Security cards, birth certificates, and/or passports are stored and protected in a fireproof lockbox.
1 Javelin Strategy & Research, 2022 Identity Fraud Study, The Virtual Battleground
2 Identity Theft Resource Center, 2022 Consumer Impact Report
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