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Federal Trade Commission says it received nearly 300,000 identity-theft complaints from consumers in 2013

Crooked auto mechanics, obnoxious debt collectors and garden-variety scam artists all bring a potent dose of misery to American consumers every day, but it’s the identity thieves who are really driving them insane.With each passing year, the world of technology evolves and improves, and that includes building stronger defenses against cybersecurity threats. Unfortunately, cybercriminals are continuously adapting and acquiring new techniques, too, and successfully exploiting emerging technologies in a perpetual game of security leapfrog.

As 2013 winds to a close, it’s time to look back at the biggest security events and incidents of the year. Here’s hoping there are some lessons to be learned—something to provide a foundation for stronger protection and a safer online and mobile world in 2014 and beyond.

Last year, the Federal Trade Commission received 290,016 identity-theft complaints from consumers – or 14 percent of the more than 2 million total complaints. The next closest complaint category, debt collectors, checked in at 10 percent of all grievances followed by banks and lenders (7 percent), imposter scams (6 percent) and telephone and mobile services (6 percent).

Keep in mind, these figures only account for the people who actually took the time to call the FTC or report a complaint on its website.

High-profile incidents such as the massive breaches at Target, Neiman Marcus and other popular retailers keep fueling the identify theft fire, providing cybercrooks with fresh banking and personal information to perpetuate their illicit craft and giving consumers more reasons to freak out.

“Americans of all ages are vulnerable to identity theft, and it remains the most common consumer complaint to the Commission,” Jessica Rich, director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection, said in the FTC report.

In total, Americans reported losing more than $1.6 billion to fraud of all types last year. Of the identity theft complaints, 30 percent were tax- or wage-related – the largest subsector within the category.

Twenty percent of identity theft complaints were filed by people 20-29 years of age, suggesting that millennials are either the most popular targets of cyberthieves, the most likely to put their data at risk, the most willing to take the time to file a complaint or a combination of all three factors.

Source: Associated Pres

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