Think you're invulnerable to identity theft? Think again. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reports that the occurrence rate for identity theft incidents is high, and it doesn't look like that trend will change anytime soon.
2013 Facts and Figures
According to the FTC's annual report, there were 290,056 reported instances of identity theft in 2013. This made up 14 percent off all the complaints the agency received last year. Nearly one-third of those were related to wage-identity or tax-identity theft.
It seems young people are especially vulnerable to identity theft, as 20 percent of complaints were made by people between the ages of 20-29. Although this demographic had the highest rate of report, people of any age bracket can easily become victims of this crime, and the 30-39 and 40-49 groups came in a close second and third for the top spot.
One small comfort might be found in the fact that the number of complaints was down from 2012. That year, there were 369,132 identity theft reports made.
Nonetheless, identity theft is still a troubling and pervasive problem. It's been at the number one spot on the FTC's list of top consumer complaints for an unsettling 14 years in a row. And despite the decline from 2012-2013, the numbers have generally gone up over the last 10 years. In 2003, there were 214,905 identity theft claims made to the FTC, about 75,000 less than there were in 2013.
Tactics and Troubleshooting
Because of the high rate of identity theft crimes, the FTC is committed to raising public awareness about identity protection. The organization offers numerous online resources, which can be found in the Privacy and Identity section of their Consumer Information site. They also sponsor events, such as Tax Identity Theft Awareness Week, with local activities happening around the country.
Consumers who believe they have been identity theft victims should report the crime to the FTC by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP or using the online Complaint Assistant tool. Reports are entered into the Computer Sentinel Network database, which helps authorities learn more about these crimes.
Despite these measures, it appears identity theft won't be going away anytime soon. Do your best to educate yourself and protect your personal information, so criminals will find stealing your identity a challenging prospect.
Meghan Ross is a freelance writer covering all things home and living. Her work can be found on Examiner.com.
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