The State of Identity Fraud And What You Can Do About It

Data breach. That’s been the “it word” for cybersecurity in 2019, and you can’t seem to go more than a week without hearing of another security breach of a huge company. Then, if your information was compromised, thus begins the process of minimizing the negative impacts.

Identity Theft and Fraud Trends in 2019

Identity theft is occurring at alarm rates and is showing no sign of slowing down. In 2018, the FTC processed 1.4 million fraud reports totaling $1.48 billion in losses. According to this recent Consumer Affairs study, cybercriminals are getting more and more advanced in their methods of committing identity theft/fraud and they’re attacking a broader group of targets. Here are a few recent statistics on identity theft.

Formjacking is up 117%

Nearly 58,000 websites were compromised by form jacking in 2018. This is when cyber criminals hijack credit card data from online payment forms and it’s affecting millions of people worldwide.

New account fraud is up 13%

Last year, new account fraud accounted for $3.4 billion in losses. Be extra cautious if you open a new account for a mortgage, car loan, student loans or credit card.

Account takeovers are up 70%

This is when a fraudster uses someone else’s personal information to obtain products and services illegally. Credit card fraud is the most rampant but skimming and phishing are also common types. Both individuals and enterprises are at risk for account takeovers.

Who’s Most at Risk?

Anyone with a Social Security number is at risk for identity theft; however, the very young, the very old, and members of the military pose the highest risk.

Children are targeted because their Social Security numbers are seen as a “clean slate” to identity thieves. Seniors are most often targeted with telephone or internet phishing scams. Older people tend to check their credit less often and have become more trusting as they age, making it difficult for them to detect those with malicious intentions.

According to FTC reports, members of the military are most affected by credit card and bank fraud. Deployed active duty military members are also at a heightened risk because they may not check or notice mistakes on their credit report and wouldn’t get a call notifying them of a (potentially) fraudulent charge. Other criteria that could make you more vulnerable to identity theft and fraud include social media users, those that have had their identity stolen previously and the deceased.

How Do I Protect Myself?

Of course, stay vigilant. Check your credit reports often and be smart with your password selection. Here are some other tips to help protect yourself against fraud.

Know who you’re working with

Make sure any business you conduct transactions with is credible. Check with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) or other consumer protection agency and call the phone number listed on the website to verify its legitimacy.

Pay with a credit card

When making online purchases, credit cards are the safest way to pay. Any unknown charge can be disputed, and you won’t be missing the money from your checking account while it’s investigated. Plus, Federal law limits your liability to $50 for any unauthorized charges.

Don’t hand out personal information

Always take extreme caution when giving out your personal information (name, DOB, Social Security #, bank account info, etc) and never give out any information unless you are confident the person/company requesting the information is legitimate.

If it seems too good to be true, it probably is

Sorry, but you can’t make money by doing little to no work. Anyone promising you a “get rich quick” idea investment is likely a scammer.

Want to read up on even more tips to protect yourself? Check out this list from Fraud.org or contact us for more tips!

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