Report: 41M Americans hit by identity thieves

WASHINGTON — As many as 41 million Americans have fallen victim to identity theft but consumers are doing little to protect themselves, according to reports that in addition to the millions of U.S. adults who have had their identities stolen, another 49 million know someone who has.

“About two in five Americans have either been an identity theft victim or know someone who has,” said analyst Mike Cetera. “This is a widespread problem and many people aren’t doing enough to protect themselves.”

Despite the frequency of identity theft, many Americans put themselves in harm’s way by engaging in risky behaviors.

Bankrate said that 42 percent of American adults do not regularly check their credit reports, and 36 percent conduct their banking and other sensitive business on unsecured Wi-Fi networks that do no require a password.

Despite their technological savvy, younger consumers are more likely to engage in risky, online behavior. Twenty-eight percent of U.S. consumers said their online passwords are all or mostly the same. But 18- to 25-year-olds are the worst offenders, with about half of them using the same password all or most of the time.

Jeff Clabaugh

Jeff Clabaugh has spent 20 years covering the Washington region's economy and financial markets for WTOP as part of a partnership with the Washington Business Journal, and officially joined the WTOP newsroom staff in January 2016.

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