Because identity, tax and wage theft has spiked considerably in 2017, the US FTC launches identitytheft.gov to help people mitigate damage and speed up the process of recovering personal data that would usually take a couple of months. But the emotional impact of having your identity stolen was, unfortunately, not approached by the Federal Trade Commission, due to the fact that this type of damages cannot be repaired by the FTC itself.
Identity theft complaints and reports last year reached the 490,000 mark, roughly 50% higher than 2014 numbers. This is not entirely surprising given the fact that hackers and other malicious parties can easily steal your identity by simply obtaining your social security number from the multiple data breaches which occurred in 2017.
According to the IRS, they have managed to stop fraudulent tax returns that would have cost upwards to $8 billion in illegal funds, with about 1.4 million identity theft returns stopped. Unfortunately, the IRS managed to lose around $5.4 billion in 2013 to such frauds and scams.
Even if the number of identity thefts spiked last year, it is currently unclear if this is due to an increase in theft events or if just more people have started to report them. Most likely, it is a combination of both, an idea approached by the FTC as well. Even so, the numbers released can still be viewed as inconclusive, given the fact that most people do not even realise that their identity has been stolen.
Either way, it is clear for both the FTC and the general public that identity theft has started to become a much more pressing concern in comparison to previous years. Unfortunately, this problem is not so easily circumvented, with the only methods of prevention being rather scarce. Freezing your credit accounts in order to stop fraudulent accounts from surfacing, filing your tax as early as possible and restraining from releasing personal information to various websites or people could effectively give you a higher degree of safety.
But that doesn’t stop the threat completely. The other step one can take in order to defend one’s self from fraud is by reporting as soon as possible that a theft has occurred. Regularly checking your credit in order to see if sudden changes have surfaced can be an effective detection method while reviewing your annual credit reports for error is also strongly advised.
Taking into account that the FTC launches identitytheft.gov to help people mitigate damage, helping people better check their data and issue reports regarding potential threats, identity thefts may somewhat decrease in numbers. Hopefully, if the general public acknowledges this threat as something of great importance, a higher degree of security can be achieved.