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Behind the ID Theft Epidemic
Before you become a victim, learn how to defend yourself.
In a new poll, AARP Research asked 2,250 Americans about their experiences with identity theft. Over 12 percent said they had unauthorized purchases made in their names in the past year. According to the Department of Justice, 16.6 million adults were victimized by ID theft in 2012. But that figure doesn't reflect incidents that go unreported, says Eva Velasquez, president of the Identity Theft Resource Center in San Diego. "Getting a police report can be difficult. Police are held accountable for their stats, and taking reports on crimes they know they're unable to solve can make them look ineffective." Why are so few fraudsters caught? "We just don't have the resources," she says. "There's a saying: "We only catch the dumb ones." So it's largely up to consumers to protect themselves. If you do become a fraud victim, insist on filing a police report: Most consumer protection laws require it. Here are 10 ways to keep your account safe.