News & Resources

Avoiding identity theft in the United States

Nov 09, 2011 Matt Roesly

Identity theft affects hundreds of thousands of Americans every year and just last year in California, 1 million people were victims, The Sacramento Bee reports. Identity theft can happen in a number of ways to any unsuspecting victim or business. While the information age has allowed an increased amount of avenues for criminals to gain personal information, so-called old-school tactics remain widely used as well, such as stealing mail. Funds and goods can be obtained from the theft of medical records, bank statements, Social Security information and driver's licenses. Generally, when a thief obtains personal information, they will open a bank account, create a fraudulent credit card and charge thousands of dollars. Businesses are vulnerable to these attacks, which is why identity verification is crucial to validating transactions According to the California Office of Privacy Protection, approximately 8.1 million adults were affected by identity theft, slightly more than 12 percent coming from California. The agency reported that victims of identity theft spent an average of $631 and 33 hours to clear up their financial status.