Recent statistics on identity theft reveal that identity theft reports doubled in 2020, with Kansas ranking first for the number of reports.
The increase in the number of reported identity theft cases is linked to the pandemic, as the majority of the reported cases concern unemployment benefits. The number of such cases in Kansas was higher than any other state: Over 38,000 Kansans had their identity stolen to submit fraudulent unemployment claims.
According to Amber Shultz, the acting secretary of the Kansas Department of Labor, these false unemployment claims exploded in numbers at the beginning of July – more than 35% of the applications were found to be fraudulent.
The department also stated that the trend was visible across the US and tried to combat it by implementing a three-day hold on claims and verifying each claim before approving it. However, with the number of claims exceeding 1 million, discerning which were legitimate was a challenging task. According to Attorney General Derek Schmidt, this has unfortunately caused a loss of millions of taxpayers’ money.
As the pandemic continues, identity theft is expected to remain a threat, so it is crucial to have some preventive measures set in place, from shredding important papers to setting stronger passwords on personal accounts. Relying on identity theft protection services is another good idea, as these can monitor the web for a specific set of data and keep individuals safe online.
However, for those who fear that their identity has been compromised, the recommended route is to inform the Federal Trade Commission and then place a fraud alert with any of the three credit bureaus. Informing financial institutions should be the next step. If repairing the identity theft damage is too time-consuming, there is the option of hiring one of the credit repair companies to handle the task.