Maryland ranks 7th nationwide in cases of identity theft

BALTIMORE - The Federal Trade Commission says Maryland is the seventh highest state in the country where people have fallen victim. 

The Better Business Bureau says vigilance online is the only measure you have to protect yourself. 

Checking bank statements, monitoring credit reports, and shredding documents makes it harder for thieves to take advantage. 

As you click, they're waiting -- scammers looking to steal your identity as you type in your valuable personal information. 

"It's going to continue to increase year over year because of our online practices," Angie Barnett, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau - Greater Maryland, said. 

She says in the last ten years, the number of people in the state who've fallen victim to I.D. theft has skyrocketed. 

"Because we're becoming a cashless society and using that wonderful debit card or credit card at the gas pump or at the ATM machine, we're also increasing the odds that we are going to be victimized, at least with a credit card or bank fraud," Barnett said. 

Less actual cash and more digital dollars. 

Barnett calls the Internet a 'feeding ground' for scammers. According to the FTC, there are about 137 complaints for every 100,000 residents in the state of Maryland.

On average, a person loses about $836.

"When you're swiping your credit card, you must look for the key identifiers that your credit card information is encrypted meaning you're going to look for that good,old little padlock that closes , you're going to look at the URL and address that's used, and make sure that it reflects that you use 'https,'" Barnett said. 

Barnett says little tips and a little and a little time can help save you thousands of dollars. 

According to the FTC, in the last ten years there have been more than 150,000 more cases of ID theft. 

The Better Business Bureau recommends shredding documents with your personal information including debit and credit cars, constantly check your bank statements for any online activity and be cautious as you put your information online. 

"...children and millenials. Millenials online -- they're online and they have a higher trust of the online experience whether it's putting in information, checking on accounts, or clicking on links in social media," Barnett said.

Clicks that could not only cost you cash, but your identity and Barnett urges anyone who might be a victim to call police.

"It's critically important that you report it because the impact is -- first our law enforcement needs collective data to try and shut scam artists down particularly when they're overseas. So that collective data is important, and reporting helps stop it from going further," Barnett said. 

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