The biggest news this week is all about identity theft, after the Federal Trade Commission released a report stating that more Americans have reported being victims than ever before.
The FTC’s annual report examining the consumer complaints it has received showed that identity theft is on the rise. There were a total of 369,132 cases of identity theft reported to the Federal Trade Commission last year, up from just 279,226 in 2011, and the highest total seen since 2008’s stat of 314,587.
The type of identity theft that posed the biggest problem to consumers across the country was related to taxes or wages, the report said. Incidents of these crimes made up 43.4 percent of all complaints made to the FTC, up from 24.3 percent in 2011 and just 15.6 percent in 2010.
Although it’s a tactic commonly employed by identity thieves themselves, creating an online alias for yourself can be one of the best tactics for protecting your identity.
Identity thieves can use things like your Facebook profile, FourSquare check-ins and tweets to piece together information about you which they can then use to steal your identity. Luckily, by changing just a few things on your online profiles, you can protect yourself. Create an online alias by changing your last name, adding (or taking away) a year from your birthdate, and even removing geotagging options from your pictures.
Although tax identity theft may be just recently attracting the attention of government agencies, a somewhat new and very troubling form of ID theft is also responsible for siphoning money from Uncle Sam through stolen identities.
As IdentityTheft911 reports, certain fraud rings are stealing Americans’ identities so that they can then apply for federal student loans to be used to pay tuition at online colleges. When the tuition check is more than is necessary for the courses, the remaining balance goes to the student, who in these cases are identity thieves. They take the remaining cash and leave their victims to foot the bill.
This form of identity theft is one to keep an eye on, especially considering how quickly tax identity theft has grown in the U.S.
Image: NS Newsflash, via Flickr