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The number of reported identity theft cases doubled in the last year after cybercriminals took advantage of people filling to receive government benefits.

The Federal Trade Commission reported during their “Identity Theft Awareness Week” that they received over 1.4 million reports of identity theft during 2020.

“Repeatedly, identity thieves targeted government funds earmarked to help people hard hit financially by the pandemic,”

Seena Gressin, an attorney with the Division of Consumer and Business Education at the FTC.

Last year, the U.S. government expanded unemployment benefits to people who lost their jobs due to the pandemic. Cybercriminals saw this as the perfect opportunity to file unemployment claims with other people’s personal information. There were almost 400,000 government benefits fraud reports in 2020, compared to 13,000 in 2019.

On another note, cybercriminals also targeted people trying to collect funds from government-sponsored small-business loan programs. The number of reported cases grew to almost 100,000 in 2020.

Bad actors also practiced these types of attacks to target stimulus checks paid out to the taxpayers.

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