As data breach incidents proliferate, a new AARP survey finds that that an alarming number of Kansas residents have failed to take the basic precautions against identity fraud. In response, AARP Kansas and the AARP Fraud Watch Network launched a campaign to raise awareness of identity theft risks and educate consumers on how to enhance the safety of their personal information.
Reports of data breaches have become commonplace — from Equifax one year ago, to Target, to Uber, to Home Depot. According to the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, there have been more than 2,000 data breaches since 2015, impacting over 7 billion records. And an eye-opening cover story in the September edition of the AARP Bulletin explains how some of this hacked personal information can end up for sale on the Dark Web.
While some security experts say almost all consumers have likely been affected in some manner by a data breach, AARP Kansas’s survey shows that many put themselves in even higher jeopardy due to their risky online behavior:
“Our survey results indicate that a lot of people may feel overwhelmed, and have just given up,” said Dr. Maren Turner, AARP Kansas State Director. “Two-thirds of those surveyed said that given the number of data breaches that have occurred, they think it is inevitable that criminals will be able to exploit their credit at some point. But we are emphasizing that there are powerful things you can do to make sure that stolen data can’t be used against you.”
The AARP Fraud Watch Network campaign recommends people take these three steps to protect their digital identity:
AARP Kansas’ digital identity theft education and awareness campaign consists of online advertising, social media content, online video, a tip sheet, and other assets that consumers can access at www.aarp.org/FraudWatchNetwork.
AARP’s “Digital Identity IQ Quiz,” consisting of eight true-or-false questions, is also available online. Among the quiz results from AARP’s recent polling of Kansas residents:
The AARP Fraud Watch Network launched in 2013 as a free resource for people of all ages. Consumers may sign up for “Watchdog Alert” emails that deliver information about scams, or call a free helpline at 877-908-3360 to speak with volunteers trained in fraud counseling. The Fraud Watch Network website provides information about fraud and scams, prevention tips from experts, an interactive scam-tracking map, fun educational quizzes, and video presentations featuring Fraud Watch Network Ambassador Frank Abagnale.
Abagnale, the renowned fraud expert whose personal story was depicted in the hit movie “Catch Me If You Can,” is also host of an AARP weekly podcast series, “The Perfect Scam,” that launched earlier this year.
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