Thousands of Americans are victims of identity theft each year. 2016 was no exception.
2016 was a banner year for fraudsters. According to a study from Javelin Strategy & Research, identity theft statistics show that the number of victims increased 16% to reach 15.4 million U.S. consumers in 2016 – the highest number since Javelin began tracking fraud in 2003.
“The criminals are getting better at committing this fraud,” said Al Pascual, research director and head of fraud and security at Javelin Strategy & Research. “They learn and they adapt and they find workarounds to the solutions we put in place.”
The study also found there were two million more identity theft victims in 2016.
There are several common ways thieves can get at your information. The more you are aware, the more you are able to prevent it from happening to you. Here are some ways to protect yourself:
Don’t carry more than you need.
Leave extra credit cards, Medicare cards, social security cards, and any financial statements at home in a secure place, unless you’re going somewhere that requires them.
Know the common scams.
Each year, the IRS creates a “Dirty Dozen” list of current identity theft scams. Two of the main culprits include phone scams and phishing.
Watch your credit.
You should regularly check your credit score and activity online, by phone, or in-person through your financial institution. If a business ever asks you for your social security number, ask why they need it and how they will protect it.
Shred old documents.
Unless you need it, shred any paper that contains sensitive information like your social security number or PINs—bank statements, credit card statements, and canceled checks, for instance. Don’t forget to shred expired credit cards and driver’s licenses, too.
Legal Shred can help you protect your identity through our routine document destruction services. As the identity protection company, it is our mission to keep our customers secure and safe. We can destroy any document, whether it’s old passports, licenses, financial documents, medical records, and any other document that contains sensitive information, ensuring that it can never be read or used again.