With an increase in 2012 for the second year in a row, identity fraud now affects 5.26% of adults in America (that’s 12.6 million consumers), to the tune of $20.9 billion. What are the easiest methods for thieves to steal our identity, and what can we do? Here’s what we’ve learned:
The two types of fraud that lately have the most impact are new account fraud and account takeover fraud. The primary root of new account fraud is the unlucky data breaches in large companies that expose our personal information outside of secure networks (think back to the news stories about those high-profile online security breaches at Zappos, Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase bank). Once that information, especially a social security number, is in the hands of a thief it’s relatively easy to open an account with a store or a credit card company. Similar to new account fraud is account takeover fraud, with credit cards, checking accounts and savings accounts as the primary targets. Fraudsters use tools such as malware to infect the consumers’ devices and steal personal information, then change the phone number and address on the account so that the victim is unable to receive fraud notifications or even know if the credit card company sent a “replacement” card to a completely different address.
Since only 15-19% of fraud victims ever receive a notification that something is wrong with their accounts, consumers have to play a large role in protecting our identity – and our credit reports by
• Restricting all financial and personal information as much as possible with passwords, encrypted files, and locked records.
• Scouring bank and credit card accounts electronically every week; daily is even better. If a bank offers fraud alert, take advantage of it.
• Monitoring credit reports for accounts and credit cards that were never applied for, or not recognized.