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How to protect yourself from identity theft

Louisville, Ky. (Wave) – Prices aren’t the only thing soaring as people face inflation at a 40-year high. According to the Federal Trade Commission, the number of reported identity theft cases doubled from 2019 to 2020.

The saying goes: It’s not a question of “if” you’ll encounter identity theft in your life, but “when.” Someone obtains a person’s personal or financial information and uses that information for their own financial gain.

Victims often feel vulnerable, but their credit, their finances, and sometimes their reputation can be damaged.

“Identity theft has always been a problem, but in the last two years, it’s just skyrocketed,” said Nick Vinzant, senior research analyst and insurance expert at QuoteWizard.

After battling pandemic problems and now record-breaking inflation has exploded.

Important findings of Indiana:

  • Identity theft in Indiana has increased 170% since the start of the pandemic
  • Indiana has already reported 3,179 identity thefts this year
  • 47 identity thefts per 100,000, 29th highest rate nationwide

Key discoveries of Kentucky:

  • Already this year, 1,517 identity thefts have been reported in Kentucky
  • 34 identity thefts per 100,000, 39th highest rate nationwide
  • Bank and government records are the fastest growing types of identity theft

Nationally Important Researches:

  • 280,000 identity thefts have already been reported this year
  • A 396% increase in identity theft in some states
  • Louisiana, Kansas and Delaware have seen the biggest increases in identity theft
  • Bank and government records are the fastest growing types of identity theft

“It’s really the result of more opportunities for criminals, and criminals coming in and taking advantage of the situation,” VinZant said.

According to the Federal Trade Commission, fraudsters have taken advantage of personal and business COVID-19 relief payments, and the rise of e-commerce has exposed more people to fraud as more personal information is shared online.

“Criminals have had more opportunities to steal people’s identities, and they’ve been doing it for the past three years,” VinZant said.

Some common tricks used to swipe your data and steal your hard-earned money are:

  • Insecure websites
  • Phishing, where a fraudulent email or message that appears to be from a reputable source can lure a person into sharing their important, intimate information.
  • Hacking, where thieves break into a person’s digital devices and networks to gain access to their information and your funds.
  • Shoulder surfing, someone looks right over a person’s shoulder to get important information like an ATM PIN, access code or credit card number.
  • Skimming, where illegally installed devices automatically download a person’s sensitive information.
  • Dumpster diving, where a person’s discarded documents can give thieves exactly what they want.
  • Mail theft, where thieves are not only taking sensitive information from their homes, but some are taking it from blue storage mailboxes.

“These scams that criminals are using are always evolving,” Vinzant said. “There’s always something new.”

Here are some ways to be proactive in protecting identity:

  • Use two-factor authentication
  • Password protection tools
  • Use a password manager to keep unique passwords for each account
  • Never give out personal information over the phone, text or email
  • Check the credit report regularly
  • Shred the documents

“Sometimes these can start as a trickle and turn into a flood,” Vinzant said.

Another tip is to freeze credit. People are allowed to freeze and unfreeze their credit reports at no cost whenever they need to.

Contact Equifax, Experian and TransUnion for a free fraud alert. If the victim notifies one of the credit unions, they alert the other two. A fraud alert is active for seven years.

CiteWizard’s report on the rising problem of identity theft, plus how people can protect themselves By clicking or tapping here.

The Wave - NBC affiliate in Louisville and southern Indiana.  Follow us on Twitter and Instagram…
The Wave – NBC affiliate in Louisville and southern Indiana. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram @wave3news.(wave)

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