Almost 30% of identity crime victims have suffered from identity theft more than once
Falling victim to identity crime should make people more vigilant against future fraud. However, data suggest otherwise.
According to the research presented by the Atlas VPN team, 29% of people in the United States become repeat victims of identity theft. Identity theft occurs when someone wrongfully acquires and uses a person's identifying information to commit fraud, typically for financial gain.
While identity thefts can have devastating and long-lasting consequences, coupled with the Covid-19 pandemic, it made victims even more vulnerable. As a result of falling prey to an identity theft crime, 40% of victims could not pay routine monthly bills, while 33% did not have enough money to buy food or pay utilities.
The data is based on the Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC) 2021 Consumer Aftermath Report. ITRC surveyed 427 individual victims of identity crimes that had previously contacted the center in 36 months ending December 31, 2020.
To minimize the chances of suffering from identity theft ever again, victims started practicing a number of safety measures. As many identity fraudsters are after financial gain, the majority of victims — 84% — reported checking their credit card reports regularly.
The second most common precaution used by identity theft victims is deleting scam emails and text messages without answering them. In total, 77% of victims reported following this practice.
Meanwhile, password hygiene is practiced by 71% of victims, who started using numbers and letters in their online passwords and making them at least eight characters long as one of the ways to protect from any future identity theft.
Additionally, 71% of identity theft sufferers reported trying not to put any personal information on their social media profiles. In comparison, 68% of victims said they have security or credit freeze on their credit reports.
How to safeguard against identity theft
While monitoring your financial details, being careful about the personal information you provide online, and using strong passwords are important measures for preventing identity fraud, there are more steps you can take to minimize your chances of falling victim to identity crime.
Be mindful of the websites you visit. Always double-check whether a website is legitimate before visiting it or providing any personal details about yourself. Phishers often use similar-looking domains to impersonate well-known brands. Look out for spelling mistakes in the website address, and read through online reviews of the website. If you have any doubts about the website's security, it is better to avoid it all together. Tools like Atlas VPN SafeBrowse can also help you avoid falling into the traps of malicious websites by blocking them before they can load.
Monitor your online account security. Data breaches are becoming an everyday reality, and simply using strong and unique passwords is no longer enough. Monitoring the security of your online accounts with the help of such tools as Atlas VPN Data Breach Monitor can help you learn whether your account has been part of a data breach so you can change your credentials and prevent criminals from taking over and stealing your identity.
Use second-factor authentication. Using second-factor authentication can give your online accounts an added layer of security, making it much harder for hackers to break in.
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