GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - It’s National Consumer Protection Week. This week's Target 2 Consumer Alert has new information about identity theft reaching epidemic levels and an online shopping scam meaning your information may be at risk.
Consider this: Identity theft is at an all-time high. A newly released fraud study says there were more than 16 million victims of identity theft (16.7 million) in the U.S last year, which is up 8%. The Javelin Research Team has been tracking fraud trends for 15 years and finds for the first time hackers stole more social security numbers than credit card numbers.
Remember the Equifax hack last fall? The Credit Monitoring Company said 145 million Americans had their social security numbers impacted. Also, the report says online shopping is the biggest gateway to fraud as hackers are using stolen credit card numbers.
Here's a new scam that could have packages piling up at your door that you're not ordering or paying for. The Identity Theft Resource Center calls it "brushing". Third party sellers on Amazon are buying their own products, but using people's names and addresses, to send packages looking like independent customers, and leave glowing five-star reviews.
It's a way around violating Amazon's terms for reviewing their own products. You might think you're just getting something for free, but they could potentially have more than just your name and address.
Recommendations to protect your accounts:
1. Turn on two-factor authentication whenever possible.
2. Shop on secure sights - avoid public Wi-Fi.
3. Sign up for account alerts on your banking and credit cards, to get immediate notification of transactions.