A new identity theft report shows many Americans have been victimized, but also suggests certain forms of ID theft may be more dangerous or prevalent than others.
The industry-sponsored study found that 12.6 million Americans were ID theft victims in 2012. That's about 1 million more than in 2011, NBC News reports.
There are many kinds of identity theft and lots of ways to deal with it. But it helps to know what kinds of issues are most likely to cause significant problems. For example:
- "Security breach" email scams are on the rise. You've probably gotten at least one email or letter from a company telling you that your personal data was supposedly compromised in some sort of security breach. Those who receive such emails are more likely to be victims of identity theft. In 2011, one in five people who received those messages became ID theft victims. In 2012, the rate increased to one in four, according to the report by Javelin Strategy and Research.
- Identity thieves aren't always strangers. Fraud can be committed by total strangers, or by people you know and trust who get hold of your personal information. This kind of "familiar fraud" is much more likely to happen to people living below the poverty line, according to the Javelin report.
- Credit card fraud is still No. 1. The report showed increases in several kinds of fraud, but credit card fraud is still the most common. It can happen if your credit card is lost or stolen, or if your card number is taken from an online source. That means it's even more important to be wary when entering your card information online. The best way to protect your identity is still to keep your card number private.
- The FindLaw Guide to Online Fraud and Identity Theft (FindLaw)
- State Credit Card Fraud Laws (FindLaw)
- Stolen Identity: What to Do (FindLaw)
- Sheriff Joe Arpaio Falls Victim to Identity Theft (FindLaw's Injured)