The National Cyber Security Alliance Responds to the FTC’s Top Consumer Complaints Report
Today the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) released its annual report on consumer complaint categories. Again, and for the 15th year in a row, the top consumer complaint is identity theft, with over 330,000 complaints logged by the FTC’s Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book in 2014 (http://www.ftc.gov/news-events/press-releases/2015/02/identity-theft-tops-ftcs-consumer-complaint-categories-again-2014
Consumer concerns about ID theft and financial loss have repeatedly led the list of a broad range of issues consumers face every day in their lives. According to a privacy study released by the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) on Data Privacy Day this past January, consumers rated having financial information lost or stolen as a higher concern than being involved in a car accident due to distracted driving, or being a victim of crime in their community (http://bit.ly/1awkD0e
While 330,000 reports to the FTC may seem like a big number, the reality is the number of ID theft cases is likely significantly higher. The Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) reported more than 16 million victims of ID theft in 2012 with financial loses of over $24 billion (http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/press/vit12pr.cfm
“In the wake of large data breaches and because identity theft can cause financial and emotional stress, Americans remain concerned about the loss of data that can lead to financial loss,” said Michael Kaiser, NCSA’s executive director. “We need to continue our vigilance and diligence to build a safer, more secure and trusted Internet.”
Stronger account security and basic cybersecurity practices are key to being safer online. Consumers should take the following online safety steps:
- Get two steps ahead: Switch on two-step verification or multi-factor authentication wherever offered to make your accounts more secure.
- Keep a clean machine: Keep software up-to-date on all Internet-connected devices to reduce risk of infection and malware.
- When in doubt, throw it out: Links in email, posts and texts are often the ways cybercriminals try to steal your information or infect your devices.
- Use a better password: Improve your defenses by making passwords that you can remember, are hard to guess, preferably use numbers, capital and lowercase letters and symbols and are different for all accounts.
For more information, visit www.stopthinkconnect.org