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Georgia among states hardest hit by identity theft

Oct 26, 2012 Dave King

Georgia among states hardest hit by identity theft
As more organizations adopt new and advanced technology to store and transfer personal and banking information, the rates of identity theft and data breach have increased substantially in recent years. Businesses have been challenged in the fight against these crimes, and must ensure the integrity of their systems to avoid lost finances and critical corporate data.
 Some states have struggled more than others when it comes to identity theft, while law enforcement and federal regulators are beefing up compliance requirements in an attempt to quell the issue. Georgia has one of the highest rates of identity theft on an annual basis, leading the Federal Trade Commission to increase efforts in The Peach State. FTC, state officials issue warnings
WALB News, a Georgia-based ABC news affiliate, recently reported that identity theft is one of the more serious problems currently facing the state. According to the news provider, Georgia has the second worst ranking in the country for identity theft instances and total financial losses stemming from the crime. The source explained that the best way to deter identity theft is educating consumers and businesses. WALB noted that a FTC report found identity theft increased from 10.1 million cases in 2010 to 11.6 million last year, while $18 billion were lost as a result of the crime in 2011. This trend has been increasing over the last several years, while Georgia has been faced with more instances this year than ever before. Though thieves who are good at hacking systems have been an increasingly difficult problem to avoid, the news provider explained that many still use old tactics, such as fishing through dumpsters for account information. While a little more than one-quarter of the total identity theft cases are derived from government-oriented benefits, the vast majority come from business- and consumer-negligence. "No one can stop all identity theft,"  Phyllis Smith, media manager of the Albany Police in Georgia, told WALB. "There are certain things you can do for free to help protect yourself. You can request a fraud alert with the credit bureaus. You can enact a credit freeze. You can be checking your credit file continuously and limit where you put your information in." Responsibility of businesses in the fight against identity theft
Businesses must follow Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI DSS) and other compliance requirements to avoid identity theft hitting their employees and customers. Further, shredding of all paper documents containing personal and banking information is imperative, as many cases come from stolen rubbish.