Identity thieves target new victims by the seconds
Updated: Tuesday, February 11 2014, 07:37 AM MST
By: Ruben Veloz, CNN
It’s estimated that every 2 seconds someone becomes a victim of identity fraud in the U.S and each day, criminals are finding new ways to lure in more victims.
Last year, more than $18 billion were stolen from consumers, some of that was taken through online accounts like eBay or PayPal that were breached.
According to a recent study, the number of online fraud victims tripled last year, setting a new record.
"You don't think that people can do that, you think that you're secure,” said El Paso resident Janet Uritson.
Uritson and her classmate Arnoldo Dominguez were some of the people who could be found at the McDonald’s near the Univeristy of Texas El Paso using the free Wi-Fi system.
Uritson said she she's never thought about the risks of using public Wi-Fi on her laptop.
"You think because everybody connects to it then there is no risk of somebody stealing your identity or getting your account, credit card account or something,” said Uritson.
In a report recently released from javelin strategy and research, the number of identity fraud victims jumped to 13.1 million in 2012 due to the recent number of credit card breaches here in the United States.
It's estimated that one in three Americans' information was stolen last year because of the Internet.
"How can we protect our information? There is no way to do it,” said Dominguez.
However experts say there is.
You can start by making sure your social media profiles are private, experts say identity thieves like to roam social media profiles with the most public information.
They then send out offers that will rope victims into giving away their personal information, like credit cards.
"I change my passwords often, I'm pretty sure when I access my credit accounts, I do this at home,” said Dominguez.
Also, don't give away your financial information to someone you don't know over the phone, believe it or not, experts say people still fall for this trick.
Criminals will pose as local businesses offering new discounts, even if you don't want fall victim, experts say checking your statements regularly has never been more important.
Another way identity thieves have been targeting people is by posing as census workers.
If you seem gullible enough, they will go further and ask for your personal information.
Thieves are also targeting victims by going out to places where there is free public Wi-Fi and setting up a network similar to the one at a café or restaurant.
If you log on to the fraudulent network, criminals will use malware software to track your every move, and eventually are able to steal your banking and personal information.
Uritson tells KFOX14 after hearing about the increase of fraud victims, she said she will do more to avoid being a victim.
"When you create your credentials for you know, credit card accounts, debit accounts, you think that because your financial institutions are secure, your card is going to be secure," said Uritson.
Financial experts recommend if you are using your personal computer to make transactions to frequently change your passwords, and don’t use passwords that are easy to figure out.
Lock your devices like computers and cellphones.
Install security software on your computer and phone, and avoid using public Wi-Fi networks.
If you see any suspicious activity in your banking account, call your bank immediately.
The sooner you report suspicious activity, the better chance you have at getting your money back, and take advantage of any free credit monitoring services offered from a retailer that was hit by a data breach.