Security breaches are on the rise at retailers and identity theft is the fastest growing crime in the country, warns Hazel Heckers, the Colorado Bureau of Investigation's victim advocate. In recent months, Hackers have compromised data for millions of people who used credit and debit cards at Kmart, Home Depot, Dairy Queen, Goodwill and elsewhere.
Heckers says about one in four Coloradans -- perhaps even one in three -- may be a victim of identity theft.
"The cost is anywhere from a few hours of their time to days and weeks and thousands of dollars if it is a more serious identity theft," she says.
Other experts confirm that a large portion of the population is likely to be a victim of identity theft in their lifetime.
In an interview on "Colorado Matters," Heckers provides tips consumers can use to protect themselves from identity fraud.
- Don't use a public Wi-Fi for conducting personal business, like banking
- Don't give your credit or debit card to a server at a restaurant you don't trust
- Don't say your full name and birth date at a place where you may be overheard
- Don't use the same password for all of your accounts.
CBI has a 24-hour hotline for identity fraud victims: 1-855-433-3489. The CBI's victim assistance program number is: 303-239-4649. Their email: CBIStopIDTheft@state.co.us. The program is also on Facebook.