About 15.4 million consumerswere victims of fraud or identity theft last year. That's an increase of 16 percent from 2015 and the highest total since 2004.
Including all types of fraud, hackers stole $16 billion in 2016, and, according to a report from Credit.com, that number could rise to $8 trillion in the next five years.
But there could be a new way to protect yourself: Virtual credit cards that provide only a temporary 16-digit card number, and, depending on the card issuer, a custom spending limit and an expiration date.
"Virtual card numbers reduce risk by eliminating the need to use your physical card number," the report says. "If, at any point, a thief gets a hold of your virtual card number, they won't be able to exceed the preset spending limit or make purchases beyond the predetermined expiration date."
Some virtual numbers even work only with specific merchants, the report says.
That's in contrast to physical credit and debit cards, which can be used more broadly. And, if yours get stolen, you could have to pay. While user liability for fraudulent credit card use is only $50 max, the Federal Trade Commission notes, debit cards are represented under the Electronic Fund Transfer Act, and consumer liability is based on how soon false charges are reported.
"Liability varies based on when you report the loss of your card," the report notes. "You could be responsible for all the money taken from your card account if you fail to report it in a timely manner."
That could be especiallybad news for millennials, as nearly 70 percent of them believe debit cards are as safe as, or even safer than, credit cards, according to a national Compare Cards-Lending Tree survey.