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It’s bad enough that tens of millions of Americans’ financial and personal data got hacked in recent database breaches (Target, Michaels and Neiman Marcus have admitted breaches, and more may be on the way).
But this week we learned that you’re much more likely to be the victim of identity theft these days than you were even a few years ago. From Kathy Kristof’s post on MoneyWatch:
If your data had been stolen three years ago, you only had about a 10 percent chance of falling prey to identity thief. Today, one-third of those who are affected by a security breach become victims of identity theft, according to Javelin Strategy and Research, which has done comprehensive annual studies of identity theft since 2006.
If your debit card information was stolen, the chance is even higher – 46 percent of consumers with a breached debit card in 2013 became fraud victims in the same year, according to the Javelin study.
As I wrote earlier, you should demand a new debit card (one with a new number) and change your PIN if you used your card at any of the affected retailers. Same goes if you used a credit card, although you have more protections from fraudulent charges when you use that type of plastic.
And you need to be vigilant. Scrutinize your statements and question every charge you don’t recognize. Beware of emails and phone calls purporting to come from your bank, your credit card company, even the IRS. The Target breach included email addresses and other personal information that could be used to deceive you.
If you really want to make yourself paranoid, watch this short video that shows how much data we leak in a typical day. It’s an eye-opener.