A spate of high-profile data breaches have brought worries about identity theft to a fever pitch. But consumers may be overlooking a risk that's much closer to home.
Concerns that your information could be compromised are justified. Through mid-July, there have been 424 data breaches compromising more than 129.6 million records, according to the Identity Theft Resource Center, affecting targets as varied as the Internal Revenue Service, the insurance company Anthem and, most recently, the adultery site Ashley Madison.
Last year, the center reports, the number of data breaches hit a record high of 783, up 27.5 percent from 2013. Javelin Strategy & Research estimated that fraud and identity theft damages that year (including but not limited to such breaches) totaled $16 billion and affected 12.7 million people.
Tracy, a health-care worker in Kentucky, is among those victims. The thief who stole her Social Security number opened several new cards in her name last year, racking up $1,500 in purchases and pushing one account past its credit limit. Another debt, owed to an online retailer, was sent to collections.
The catch? Tracy, who asked that her last name be withheld for privacy concerns, wasn't victimized by some nameless, faceless hacker.
Her husband was the culprit.
"He knew my birthday. He had my Social Security number. He even had a copy of my driver's license stored on his computer," said Tracy, who spotted the first fraudulent account after receiving a message from the bank about a missed payment. Her husband confessed to the fraud, and the couple has since divorced.