Turns Out 1.1 Billion Identities Were Stolen Just Last Year (NBD, Right?)
When it comes to protecting your identity, you can be one of two people, in my opinion.
You can be the person who’s overly cautious. Never swipe a card; only use cash. Never leave a paper trail; always shred. Never let go of your password; always reset.
You’re a Ron Swanson of sorts (if you watched “Parks and Recreation”).
Or you’re the type of person who slides on their rose-colored glasses and says something like, “Of the billions of people in the world, who wants my information? I’ll be fine.”
I suppose there’s a third, too. That’d be me: a combination of sorts. I like the idea of protecting what assets I have, but I don’t want to actively keep tabs on my identity. I use a free tool that does that for me.
Still not convinced you need someone — or something — keeping track of your identity?
These numbers should sober you right up. At least, they did for me.
Here Are Some Recently Released Identity Theft Statistics
Symantec Corporation recently released its April 2017 Internet Security Report. It’s 77 pages, but I pulled some numbers to put internet security in perspective:
- Last year, there were 1,209 breaches.
- And 15 of those breaches exposed more than 10 million identities, deeming them “mega breaches.”
- The total number of “identities exposed” soared to 1.1 billion (compared to 564 million in 2015. But it’s still better than the 1.2 billion we saw in 2014.)
- The average number of identities exposed in each breach were 927,000.
Do note, these numbers are from across the globe. However, the United States sits pretty (or not) on the list of the top 10 countries by number of identities stolen.
- United States: 791,820,040 identities stolen
- France: 85,312,000 identities stolen
- Russia: 83,500,000 identities stolen
- Canada: 72,016,746 identities stolen
- Taiwan: 30,000,051 identities stolen
- China: 11,344,346 identities stolen
- South Korea: 10,394,341 identities stolen
- Japan: 8,301,658 identities stolen
- Netherlands: 6,595,756 identities stolen
- Sweden: 6,084,276 identities stolen
Most identities stolen in the U.S., 90% actually, were due to those few mega breaches.
The Two-Minute Fix That’ll Help Protect Your Identity
Like I mentioned, I use a free service called Credit Sesame.
It took me about two minutes to sign up. Then, once in the dashboard, I signed up for instant text credit updates. That means when someone tries to apply for credit in my name, I’ll receive a text.
Plus, at any time, I can review my credit report for suspicious activity.
The service also covers me for up to $50,000 in identity theft insurance (for free).
Disclosure: Here’s a toast to the affiliate links in this post. May we all be just a little richer today.
Carson Kohler (@CarsonKohler) is a junior writer at The Penny Hoarder. Typically, she’s pretty paranoid about her finances, but when it comes to protecting her identity, she’s a little too slack (unless there’s a free tool that takes all of two minutes to sign up for!).