RIP-OFF ALERT: Identity theft continues to grow more than 15 years since I took my first call about it on the air.
The sad reality is that no one prioritizes cracking down on identity theft. Police focus on violent crime, not identity theft, and that’s as it should be. The credit bureaus don’t care because you’re not really your customer; they just make money selling info about you to banks, credit card companies and retailers.
And the banks, credit card companies and retailers don’t care either because it’s just business as usual for them — some people are going to get their identities stolen in the process, and it’s just like a shrug of the shoulders to them.
Experian reports that 12 million pieces of personal info were traded online by criminals in the first 120 days of 2012. No telling how many exact cases of identity theft that trade resulted in, but it’s sure to be a lot.
Meanwhile, consumers have an average of 26 separate log-ins but only 5 passwords. A cracked email could be the way a criminal ultimately breaches your bank or brokerage account.
In related news, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that identity theft problems are up more than 100% year over year in the Atlanta metro area. The crooks know they are not likely to get caught, and that if they do, they generally don’t go to jail for a meaningful time. This is a crime almost without punishment.
So you need to be your own cop on the beat. Rethink how you do passwords. And freeze your credit. Don’t wait until your identity is stolen to get around to doing these simple tips.