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Identity theft is even more common than you think

With numerous tools and tricks at their disposal it is easy for intelligent, driven individuals to steal financial data. From credit card numbers to tax returns, consumers truly have no idea how much of their private data can become public.

Whether you simply throw away your credit card statements without shredding them or you wirelessly connect to an unsecured WiFi while writing at the local coffee shop, you are exposing yourself to prying eyes and potentially devastating financial harm. Recent statistics show that millions of United States households have experienced one or more types of identity theft.

At the end of 2011, the Bureau of Justice Statistics released a report titled Identity Theft Reported by Households, 2005-2012. They collected data from United States households and collected the findings for public consumption. There were two notable findings, both occurring in the year 2010 - the final year of the study:

  • 8.6 million United States households had at least one member who experienced one or more types of identity theft.
  • More than 64% of those who experienced identity theft in 2010 reported that it was a misuse or attempted misuse of a credit card account.

It is important to understand your digital surroundings in an effort to insulate yourself from identity theft. Shred your data, don't respond to untrustworthy email messages and be wary of unsecured WiFi signals.

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