According to a study done by a UK-based fraud prevention organization, the number of identity fraud victims has more than doubled in the short span of just one year.
The organization, which is called Cifas, reports that the massive surge can be partially credited to security problems posed by many people’s most used sites — social media platforms.
“The likes of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other online platforms are much more than just social media sites—they are now a hunting ground for identity thieves,” said Cifas’ chief executive, Simon Dukes.
He also noted that the dramatic spike in fraud should encourage social media users to use extreme caution when posting personal information.
According to the study, 85% of the new fraud cases were committed online, as opposed to more traditional methods of identity theft, like over-the-shoulder PIN hackers and wallet snatchers.
In the U.S., identity theft has long posed a huge problem, making it a $50 billion a year industry. And according to this new data, being young doesn’t quite mean being immune from cyber-identity fraud. People between the ages of 31 and 61 experienced the biggest jump in victimization, and it was found in that only 57% of people between the ages of 18 to 24 said that they gave thought to how secure their information was online.
Studies affirming the correlation and causation of social media and identity fraud in the U.S. aren’t available for 2016, but studies conducted by Javelin Strategy & Research affirm it. According to their study, Facebook users with public profiles were victims of identity theft 7.5% of the time — almost twice that of the rest of the population.
Cifas urges users to be very careful when online. never divulge sensitive personal information about yourself online, including phone number, your address, or pictures of your home or workplace. Be wary of fake friend requests and other pages, and make sure to update your computer’s firewall and anti-spyware programs.