Last year the number of identity theft victims in the US jumped 12%, while the number of Internet-related fraud cases went up 23%. But the problem isn't just hackers, say experts: In many cases, we're exposing our private data to anyone and everyone who knows where to look. Atlanta officials recently found names, Social Security numbers, and home phone numbers of 1,000 of the city's firefighters online, for instance.
Peer-to-peer software such as LimeWire contributes to the problem. While typically used to share music and video files, the software can just as easily transmit, say, workplace spreadsheets containing medial records and insurance details, the Wall Street Journal reports. And then there's employee theft: A Bank of America employee was busted for selling customer data in April, and a Seattle courts employee used court records of credit card numbers to enable fraudsters' recent $300,000 Wal-Mart shopping spree.