Without the appropriate tools for protecting personal information and keeping it out of criminals' hands, more consumers will likely join the list of millions of identity theft victims in the United States.
The following are some of the top crimes consumers need to be aware of, as well as useful tips provided by LifeLock that minimize the risk of falling victim to these crimes:
Tax time trouble - Hopefully hefty tax refunds will bring relief to some after preparing their forms and ideally filing before the April 15 deadline hits. Unfortunately, tens of thousands of taxpayers' information may be intercepted by thieves using file sharing software.
Scammers going "phishing" again - Experts have recently noticed a sudden influx in "phishing" and "vishing" scams across the nation, which they are attributing to tough economic times. Scam artists target innocent consumers and trick them into believing they are representatives from legitimate companies, and in turn, consumers voluntarily hand over personal information. Legitimate companies should never ask consumers to supply this kind of information over the phone or through email. Any email or phone call that seems fishy probably is and should be reported to local law enforcement.
Thriving off unemployed - A recent trend shows that while thieves are targeting all consumers, they are especially interested in those on the hunt for jobs; employment scams have been popping up nationwide. Before applying, job seekers should always check into the history of the company with the Better Business Bureau.
Oops, they did it again - It seems nearly every other day the media reports on local and national companies that have accidentally leaked customers' personal information. Unfortunately, once the cat's out of the bag, it's out, so to speak. However, consumers can take steps to lessen the blow: check bank, credit and other account history regularly, scouring it for any inaccuracies, and immediately cancel any affected accounts.