Between Uber, Equifax, and a handful of others, the U.S. has witnessed major data breaches in the past year that have compromised the personal information of millions, leaving them to deal with the possibility of identity theft. And the impact is not lost on consumers, as according to a recent McAfee survey, 61% of consumers say their concern about online security has increased over the past five years. So, to track the effects and financial impact of these attacks, the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and McAfee released a new report, The Economic Impact of Cybercrime, which found that identity theft is the most expensive kind of property crime in the U.S.
So, just how much money have these breaches cost everyday consumers? Identity theft specifically has cost people $10 billion more than the loses attributed to all other property crime. You heard correctly: billion. The report also tells us that since 2014, nearly three billion internet credentials and other personally identifiable information (PII) have been stolen by hackers, and two-thirds of people online (more than two billion individuals) have had their personal information stolen or compromised. In fact, cybercrime ranks third in dollar value among illegal activities globally, just behind government corruption and narcotics trafficking.
Now the next question is – what’s being done to protect against this? Usually, those compromised by these attacks scan their bank statements, sign up for monitoring, and chop up their credit cards. But beyond that – not much. Even though consumers are concerned about their personal security, only 37% of individuals use an identity theft protection solution, and 28% have no plans to sign up for an ID theft protection solution, meaning there is still more that can be done. Therefore, to ensure your personal identity stays protected, follow these tips:
- Be careful about what you share. Signing up for new services usually requires you to provide personal information. But before giving that information away, it’s critical to consider the cost of doing so and determine if the service received is worth the cost sharing that data.
- Check your privacy settings. This is an easy one. You should adjust your settings to only share data when required, or only with people you know and trust.
- Utilize an identity theft solution. With all this personal data floating around online, it’s important to stay aware of any attempts to steal your identity. Use an identity theft solution, such as McAfee Identity Theft Protection, that can help protect personally identifiable information from identity theft and fraud.