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    Digital Trends: Three reasons why ID theft increased in 2011 and how you can protect yourself

    Digital Trends reports on the issue of identity theft and how people can protect the privacy of their data:

    Last year saw an increase in identity theft incidents when compared to 2010. According to a fraud report from Javelin Strategy & Research, there has been an increase of 13 percent in ID Theft for 2011, and some of the blame can be pinned on the rise of social media and smartphone use.

    In 2010, roughly ten million adults were victims of ID fraud; that number is now up to 11.6 million adults in 2011. Javelin Strategy & Research’s long-running study surveyed 5,022 US consumers in October 2011 in order pinpoint the impact of fraud, as well as the prime areas of vulnerability. The fraud report found that, in 2011, the main catalysts for the rise in ID theft incidents were the rampant data breaches, negligent smartphone security and publicly displayed personal information on social media sites.

    Interestingly, while the fraud incidents are higher for 2011, the costs of identity fraud haven’t increased. Compared to 2004, the consumer’s out-of-pocket costs have actually decreased by 44 percent. The report believes that this is due to the crack-down on authentication by institutions, as well as consumer awareness efforts by the government and institutions. […]

    Javelin reports that there was a 67 percent increase in the number of Americans impacted by data breaches last year. The three most common items found to be exposed in a breech are: Credit card number, debit number and social security number. The research found that data breach victims are 9.5 more likely to have an identity fraud incident.

    Javelin also found that certain social behaviors put consumers more at risk. Despite warnings that fraudsters often use social media as a resource, the research found that users were sharing a large amount of personal information on their networks; the same type of information used to authenticate identity by institutions. The study found that, of those who had public profiles, 68 percent shared their birthday information, 63 percent shared their high school, 12 percent shared their pet’s name and 18 percent even shared their phone number.

    Though Javelin said there is “no proof of direct causation,” Google+, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn had the highest incidence of fraud. LinkedIn users were twice as likely to have reported being an identity theft victim.

     Read the full story for tips on how to protect yourself.

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