Trick, no treat: The scary numbers behind identity theft


As you put the finishing touches on your fierce Beyoncé outfit or run to the local thrift shop to find the perfect Heisenberg hat to complete your Walter White get-up, someone out there might be adopting an identity that’ll really scare you this Halloween season — YOURS!

Scary Numbers

The rise of identity theft — the unauthorized use of personal data to commit fraud, gain access to accounts, open new accounts or file false claims — is a frightening epidemic in today’s increasingly digital world.

In 2013, the Bureau of Justice Statistics released a comprehensive report on identity theft, revealing that about 16.6 million Americans had been victims of at least one incident of the fraud in 2012. As a whole, those victims suffered more than $24.7 billion in direct and indirect losses.

As evidenced by the numerous high profile data breaches at retail giants such as eBay and Target in the past 12 months alone, the numbers are only rising. In fact, as of July of this year, there were 368 big data breaches; a nearly 19% increase from the same period in 2013 — that’s a whole lot of havoc being wreaked on credit history, finances and individual reputations nationwide.

Will You Become a Victim?

Whether you’re rolling in dough or deep in debt, you can become a target; anyone with a bank account, credit card or social security number is vulnerable to identity theft. Even in the safety of your own room or confines of your college campus, shared environments, physical and digital, are a breeding ground for fraud.

Be mindful of your “digital footprint,” which is the personal data you share with others online. That includes status updates, photos and any other seemingly innocent details you instantly disperse with a single swipe of your smartphone. It’s not just your personal privacy at stake; it’s your entire identity, bank accounts and credit cards included.

The fallout from identity theft can extend far beyond a financial loss. It can also do serious damage to your credit, hampering your ability to get a loan, an apartment, even a job post grad!

Put preventative measures in place to keep others from masquerading as you this Halloween, or any other time for that matter, by following MintGrad’s practical tips for protecting your identity.

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