The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has designated February 1-5th as Identity Theft Awareness Week.  The Coronavirus pandemic has contributed to a dramatic increase in identity theft with the the FTC reporting that it received approximately 1.4 million complaints of identity theft in 2020 which is double the amount of complaints received by the FTC in 2019 and as bad as this figure looks, it probably only represents a small fraction of the true number of victims of identity theft.

Contribuing to the rise in identity theft complaints this past year was a huge increase in identity theft relating to unemployment benefits, criminals using business or pesonal information of their victims to obtain other government sponsored benefits and scams related to stimulus payments and vaccine scams.

Identity theft is the biggest and fastest-growing crime in the world and with good reason.  It is easy to perpetrate and easy to get away with.  No one is immune from identity theft.  Children, the elderly and even the dead can have their identities stolen.  I predict that income tax identity theft will increase this year due to a number of data breaches related to the Coronavirus pandemic that have provided criminals with personal information of many people.

TIPS

Many of the more than 3,000 Scams of the day found on the http://www.scamicide.com blog relate to identity theft and contain a myriad of tips to help you avoid becoming a victim.  You can use the Search for scams tab to find information about a wide variety of scams including income tax identity theft, criminal identity theft where someone uses your identity and commits crimes using your name, health care identity theft, synthetic identity theft, identity theft involving dead people and child identity theft.

The single best thing you can do to protect yourself from becoming a victim of identity theft is to freeze your credit at each of the three major credit reporting bureaus, Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.  Here are links to each of them with instructions about how to get a credit freeze:

https://www.freeze.equifax.com/Freeze/jsp/SFF_PersonalIDInfo.jsp
https://www.transunion.com/credit-freeze/place-credit-freeze
https://www.experian.com/freeze/center.html
Once you have frozen your credit, be sure to keep the PIN and information on how to unfreeze your credit report in a safe place.

You also may want to consider getting a copy of my book “Identity Theft Alert” which you can order from Amazon through the tab toward the bottom of the first page of http://www.scamicide.com

For those of you receiving the Scam of the day through an email, I just want to remind you that if you want to see the ever increasing list of Coronavirus scams go to the first page of the http://www.scamicide.com website and click on the tab at the top of the page that indicates “Coronavirus Scams.”  Scamicide has been cited by the New York Times as one of three top sources for information about Coronavirus related scams.

If you are not a subscriber to Scamicide.com and would like to receive daily emails with the Scam of the day, all you need to do is sign up for free using this link. https://scamicide.com/scam-of-the-day/