Identity theft impacts several people each year. The 2018 Identity Fraud Study, conducted by Javelin Strategy & Research, finds the number of identity fraud victims increased by eight-percent within the last year, rising to 16.7 million consumers.
AARP Oklahoma state director Sean Voskuhl says identity theft frauds are quite common. He notes these attacks “can have a big impact on individuals, businesses and farm operations.”
“It can happen at the farm and ranch store or through the internet, at home. Imagine someone getting access to your farm account,” Voskuhl said. “That could be a devastating, short-term blow to your operation with lingering long-term impacts, costing you thousands of dollars and precious time to fix.”
The Insurance Information Institute reports $16.8 billion was stolen last year, as 30% of United States consumers were notified of a data breach. Voskuhl says it is important to know what to look for, in an effort to protect all personal information. He offers steps to help protect your personal information.
“Many try to con you out of your personal information via email,” Voskuhl said. “Make sure to thoroughly examine any email you get to make ensure that it is real. Debit card readers can be hacked with a skimmer device. If the machine looks off, say something or use another form of payment, if possible. As always be wary of odd and out of area phone calls that you don’t recognize.”
Voskuhl says almost everyone has been impacted by identity theft and fraud. He adds simple steps such as freezing your credit or using a monitoring system can pay off.
“Even though nearly 100% of us have been affected by identity theft at some point, whether we know it or not, only six-percent lose money. Criminals are lazy. Placing some simple roadblocks in their path can potentially force them to move on,” Voskuhl said.