Online Identity Theft Up 200% Since 2010 as Users Open More Accounts

In Q1 2012, cybercriminals traded 12 million pieces of personal information online — a 200 percent increase over 2010. Most victims were unaware their identity had been stolen until they were denied access to something. Identity theft victims commonly experience refusal of loans or credit cards (14 percent), debts being run up in their name (9 percent), refusal of mobile phone contracts (7 percent), and being chased by debt collectors for money they do not owe (7 percent).

This data comes from credit-checking firm Experian, which blamed the increase in identity theft on the fact that individuals are signing up for an increasing number of online accounts. On average, most users have 26 online accounts, but use only around five different passwords.

The past few months have seen a slew of attacks on websites including LinkedIn, eHarmony, Last.fm, Yahoo, Android Forums, Billabong, Formspring, and Nvidia.  To date, around 10 million users have been affected by these breaches.

Users who have accounts with any of these sites are advised to change their passwords and, if the same email address or username and password combination are used elsewhere, those should also be changed.

DDC SECURITY NOTE:  For improved online account security, also consider using passphrases (an example would be “MyP@rrotsNamedP0lly”) instead of the weaker 8-character passwords, and remember to change your passwords frequently!

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