LA CROSSE, Wis. - A new study shows identity theft reached record levels in 2016.
The study from Javelin Strategy and Research shows the number of identity theft victims increased 16 percent in 2016.
The study also found that fraud without the actual card has risen, as chip cards become more common and online shopping continues to grow.
Local experts said there are simple ways to protect yourself.
When walking through downtown La Crosse, you hear a story that's all too familiar.
"One day I was going through my statements and I noticed small amounts taken here and there from places that I didn't actually buy stuff. So I went back to previous statements, and I noticed small amounts taken each month, that I didn't notice because it wasn't a giant amount,” said La Crosse resident Kelby Oswald. "It really opened my eyes that you really have to pay attention."
Experts say some types of fraud are slowing down.
"With the new chip cards, it will make it harder for scammers to get the information off of the card, so the 'card-present' fraud should diminish as more chip cards are being used,” said Katie Hagen of GECU.
But the study shows "card not present" fraud, which takes place through such activities as online shopping, has risen by 40 percent.
"Never make a purchase online with a website you are unfamiliar with,” Hagen said. “You need to make sure that site is secure before you enter your card number."
The study recommends that consumers begin using such feasutres as account alerts through their financial institutions.
"If a transaction is made online, we can actually get notification through text messaging or email that an online purchase has been made,” Hagen said.
And if someone calls you asking for personal information, it's best just to ignore the request.
"We wouldn't call and ask for your account number. We already have their account number,” Hagen said.
These are lessons learned from those who have already been the victims.
"Every time I get a statement, I go through each individual transaction to make sure I actually made that transaction,” Oswald said.
The study also suggests that users should be more aware on social media, using stronger passwords on online accounts and monitor all of their transactions.
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