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The software that threatens your identity: Column


By John Breyault

Consumers are likely to be all too familiar with the following scenario: Performance on a seemingly new computer suddenly begins to slow to a crawl, websites that used to load normally start to be inundated with pop-ups, and weird ads begin to show up on otherwise normal websites. While this is certainly an annoyance, it could be a symptom of something even worse: an increased risk of identity theft.

Identity theft, always a concern, has been growing especially rapidly recently. Last month the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reported a 47% year over year increasein identity theft complaints. Even worse, the nearly 500,000 identity theft complaints to the FTC this year are likely just the tip of an unseen iceberg. Far too many identity theft victims don’t report the crime, if they’re even aware of it. The U.S. Department of Justice found that, in 2014, 17.6 million Americans fell victim to identity theft and two-thirds of them reported a direct financial loss.

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