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Florida highest in growing identity theft problem

With so many people still facing serious financial challenges in this economy, criminals are getting bolder and more creative in their methods of stealing money and personal information. According to Equifax, identity theft is a growing problem that's only expected to get worse.

An official from Equifax says that identity fraud in the country went up 13 percent from 2010 to 2011. They expect the numbers for 2012 to be even higher. This can be scary news for Floridians, where identity theft is the highest per capita in the nation. From credit cards and Social Security numbers to addresses and driver's licenses, millions of Americans find themselves unwitting victims of this crime.

Besides thieves becoming more sophisticated, what are some of the reasons identity fraud is becoming more prevalent? One of the main answers is that as technology becomes more sophisticated, yet more easily accessible, it's easier for anyone to assume someone's identity. The vast amount of personal information many consumers put online can make them easy targets; so can customer databases, which store customers' financial information.

Criminals can hurt a person's credit by opening false credit card accounts, using fake IDs or filing fraudulent tax refunds with Social Security numbers and other personal information they can find online. People who want to protect themselves from identity theft can take such steps as protecting their smart phones with passwords and wiping software, putting their names on do-not-mail lists, and refusing to give out their Social Security numbers without good reason.

Those who have found themselves the victims of identity fraud face serious problems that can result in creditor harassment and other issues. They may wish to consult with a bankruptcy attorney to find out how they can clear their names.

Source: The Atlanta-Journal Constitution, "Identity theft a growing problem," Christopher Quinn, Feb. 6, 2013

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