Identity Thieves Hit 41 Million Americans

Bankrate recently found that 41 million U.S. adults have had their identities stolen, and another 49 million know someone who has been affected.

That’s a big number, and it underscores the scope of the problem.

Whether it’s through the use of inadequately-protected payment systems at retailers, or through our own too-lax personal practices, we’ve simply made it too easy for identity thieves to operate.

The recently announced Yahoo hack, which included 500 million accounts, is the latest major data breach to affect consumers. Other prominent examples from the past few years include Target and Home Depot.

These Bankrate’s findings testify to our lax personal relationship with security:

  • 42% of Americans do not regularly check their credit reports.
  • 36% conduct banking and other sensitive business on unsecured WiFi networks that do not require a password.
  • 28% say their online account passwords are all or mostly the same. 18-25 year-olds are the worst offenders: about half of them use the same password all or most of the time.

Password security is one of the most powerful – and simplest – ways we can safeguard our personal information. Yet, so few of us are doing even the minimum by changing passwords regularly.

If you’ve ever had your identity compromised (or know someone who has), then you know how difficult it can be to set things right. As with most things in life, prevention is your best bet. Start by changing your passwords today.

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