Floridians Are At High Risk of Identity Theft
New data released by the National Consumers League confirms that Florida remains a hotspot in the national fraud epidemic.
The Federal Trade Commission has released its 2015 Consumer Sentinel Data Book, which lists Florida as being the top state in 2014 to receive the most per-capita fraud and identity theft complaints.
Seven of the top 20 cities to report fraud complaints to the Commission were located in Florida. And, Florida also accounted for nine of the top 20 metropolitan areas to report identity theft.
Thirty-seven percent of Floridians who filed complaints to the Commission reported a loss.
The vulnerability of Floridians to fraud and identity theft is largely due to the ongoing problem of data breaches.
According to Javelin Strategy & Research, nearly one in three data breach victims will experience identity fraud.
“Data breaches regularly expose sensitive personal information about millions of Florida consumers on cybercrime black markets,” says John Breyault, vice president of public policy telecommunications and fraud at the National Consumers League. “Without reforms in Washington to better protect consumers’ data, high identity theft rates could become the ‘new normal,’ for consumers in Florida and around the country.”
While there is no foolproof way for consumers to protect themselves from identity theft, there are steps they can take that will reduce their risk of becoming victims:
1) Resist clicking on suspicious links or attachments in emails, text messages or on the Internet for these often contain malware that can hijack your computer and steal sensitive personal information.
2) File your taxes early in the tax season. Scammers file in someone else’s name early in tax season and collect fraudulent returns before the legitimate taxpayer has filed his or her return.
3) Create strong and unique passwords using a combination of letters, numbers and symbols. Also, don’t use the same password across multiple websites.
4) Regularly review your credit reports and report any suspicious activity promptly.