The numbers are staggering: 15.4 million people were victims of identity theft last year, hitting an all-time high, a new report has found. That's nearly 1 in 16 Americans who have had their personal sensitive information wrongfully acquired and fraudulently used, and losses of over $16 billion.
With fraudsters constantly adopting new methods to access your sensitive information, it's important for you to stay of ahead them. The first step is to revisit your own security practices: are you using strong passwords online, installing two-step verification on your email, shredding documents with sensitive information, and securing important documents in safe locations?
Then, make sure you're not doing anything that would make you more susceptible to identity theft. Don't share sensitive information over the phone or online unless you initiated the conversation, and exercise caution when using public Wi-Fi.
Finally, look out for the warning signs that you've been the victim of identity theft. If you see an unexpected withdrawal from your bank account, learn of an abnormal change to your credit rating, or receive notification from the IRS of more than one tax form submitted in your name, you should immediately visit the Federal Trade Commission's website for reporting identity theft, which offers step-by-step instructions on how to respond.
Simple actions can make sure you don't become one of the Americans affected by identity theft each year.