ID thefts reach 5% of U.S. population..!!

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Identity theft is a scam that reaches at least 5 percent of the U.S. population.

A report released by the Bureau of Justice Statistics said 11.7 million Americans ages 16 and older were victims of identity theft between the years 2006 and 2008 — and financial experts say that number is increasing.

“Technology is always changing, and unfortunately it makes identity theft easier, so we have to be more careful,” said Rebecca Travnichek, family financial education specialist for the University of Missouri Extension.

Ms. Travnichek said in 2005, it was reported that there was one identity theft victim every 22 seconds.
This and the bureau’s report are the most recent numbers available, she said, but it would be safe to assume the number of victims has increased, and the time between each crime has decreased.

The most common form of identity theft is the fraudulent use of an existing account, most likely found through “dumpster diving” for account numbers and other identifying information.

The Bureau of Justice Statistics found that of the 11.7 million victims, 3 percent reported a breach or attempted breach of an existing bank account or credit card.
Ms. Travnichek said this form of identity theft can easily be avoided by shredding any document that has your full name, address, Social Security number, or any bank or credit card account numbers.

“It’s very disheartening to me, because a lot of this is people just aren’t paying attention,” she said.
It’s especially important to be aware of the potential for identity theft around the holidays, when other tasks may be a priority, said Detective Richard Shelton with the St. Joseph Police Department’s financial crimes unit.

“Everyone gets in the frantic mode and they forget some common thinking, such as keeping a closer eye on their purse and wallets,” especially when holiday shopping or hosting guests, he said.

Even businesses are often more lenient when opening accounts in the busy holiday season, paying less attention to the information provided and overlooking identification checks. The bureau reported that 1.7 million people reported the fraudulent use of their information to open a new account.



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