Tag Archives: ID Theft

Identity Fraud Incidents Continue Upward Trend

One million more consumers became victims of identity fraud in 2012, and the dollar amount stolen rose to $21 billion –  the highest level since 2009.

The 2013 Identity Fraud Report by Javelin Strategy & Research found 12.6 million victims of identity fraud in the United States in the past year, which equates to 1 victim every 3 seconds.

The report also found that nearly 1 in 4 data breach letter recipients became a victim of identity fraud, which is the highest rate since 2010. This underscores the need for consumers to take all notifications seriously, Javelin said.

Breaches involving social security numbers were the most damaging. The study found consumers who had their social security number compromised in a data breach were five times more likely to be a fraud victim than an average consumer.

The good news is that companies appear to be responding more quickly to incidence of fraud. The study found a consumer’s information is being misused for an average of 48 days in 2012, down from 55 days in 2011 and 95 days in 2010.

Misuse time was down for all types of fraud including fraud on cards, loans, bank accounts, mobile phone bills as well as other types.

Small businesses in particular  are losing out to fraud as victims become more selective where they shop after an incident. The study found that 15 percent of all fraud victims decided to change behaviors and avoid smaller online merchants after an incident.

Check out I.I.I. info on identity theft here.

Cyber Monday Risks

You’ve had your fill of turkey, the games have been played, Black Friday has come and gone, but you haven’t lost your appetite to shop.

A record 129.2 million Americans are expected to shop online this Cyber Monday, up from the 122.8 million who shopped last year, according to a survey conducted for Shop.org by BIGinsight.

The same survey finds the number of shoppers planning to use their smartphones or other mobile device this Cyber Monday has increased by 14.4 percent to 20.4 million, from 17.8 million in 2011. In fact, in just three years, the number of Americans saying they would use their mobile device to shop on Cyber Monday has jumped from just 3.6 million in 2009 to 20.4 million in 2012.

All of this means that as we make our holiday purchases, we’re opening ourselves up to many risks, including identity theft and fraud.

The Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC) warns that many criminals have found using the internet to be an easier and less riskier way to target victims.

The ITRC notes that some of the issues holiday shoppers will face this year are:

–Exposing themselves to identity theft while using public Wi-Fi to shop online.

–Engaging in deals that are just “too good to be true†.

–Using debit cards at a POS terminal rather than credit cards, exposing themselves to greater risk.

While online shopping is both easy and convenient, consumers should take necessary precautions to protect their data and financial assets.

The Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.) offers some timely tips to help protect your identity this holiday season.

Data Breach Victims More Likely To Suffer Identity Fraud

Approximately 1.4 million more adults were victimized by identity fraud in 2011, compared to 2010, as the number of fraud incidents increased by 13 percent in the United States.

One of the key factors potentially contributing to the increase in identity fraud was the significant rise in data breaches, according to Javelin Research & Strategy’s just-released 2012 Identity Fraud Report.

It  found that 15 percent of Americans, or about 36 million people, were notified of a data breach in 2011. Those receiving a data breach notification were 9.5 times more likely to become a victim of identity fraud.

The report also found that consumers’ social media and mobile behaviors may be putting them at greater risk of identity fraud.

LinkedIn, Google+, Twitter and Facebook users had the highest incidence of fraud although there is no proof of direct causation.

Despite the warnings, people on social networks are still sharing too much personal information frequently used to authenticate a consumer’s identity.

Specifically, 68 percent of people with public social media profiles share their birthday information (with 45 percent sharing month, date and year); 63 percent shared their high school name; 18 percent shared their phone number; and 12 percent shared their pet’s name.

Smartphone users are also experiencing greater incidence of fraud, Javelin found, with seven percent victims of identity fraud. This is one-third higher incidence rate compared to the general public.

The good news is that despite the increase in identity fraud last year, it is becoming less profitable for fraudsters as the dollar amount stolen remained steady.

In addition, consumer out-of-pocket costs have decreased by 44 percent since 2004. Javelin attributed this to improved prevention and detection tools that have come available as well as fraud alerts leading to reduced detection time.

Check out I.I.I. info on  identity theft.

Cyber Monday Goes Mobile

Holiday shopping season is well and truly upon us and if you’re searching for Cyber Monday deals from your mobile device you might want to take note of a survey by Internet security firm Webroot.

Webroot surveyed 1,215 mobile device users in the U.S. and U.K. and found that 50 percent plan to make their holiday purchases using mobile devices this year — more than double the 22 percent that did so in 2010.

But convenience may come at a cost for those who skip certain measures to secure their devices and personal data.

Webroot also found that only 40 percent of respondents have a security app installed to block threats or remotely lock and locate a lost device, and a surprising 53 percent leave their devices unlocked.

In a release, Webroot cautions:

People using mobile devices are exposed to a new set of online risks: cybercriminals seed mobile markets with malicious apps that can steal your personal data or send texts and SMS messages to premium numbers. And because of their size, smartphones and tablets are easier to lose or have stolen than laptops and notebooks, which puts the vast amounts of personal data stored on them at risk.†

Webroot security experts offer the following key tips for safe mobile shopping:

– Know your apps: download apps only from a trusted source

– Lock your device: set up a password or code to protect your device when left unattended.

– Explore mobile security services: mobile security apps provide lost device protection, secure web browsing, and antimalware services.

Before you make another online purchase, be sure to also check out I.I.I. tips for avoiding identity theft.

“Friendly Fraud” On the Rise

Identity fraud incidents declined significantly in the United States in 2010, but now is not the time to let your guard down.

So-called “friendly fraud” – fraud perpetrated by people known to the victim, such as a relative or roommate – grew seven percent last year, according to Javelin Research & Strategy’s recently released 2011 Identity Fraud Survey Report.

People in the 25-34 age group are most likely to be victims of friendly fraud, mostly by having their Social Security number (SSN) stolen (41 percent).

The increase in friendly fraud is also contributing to a significant rise in consumer out-of-pocket costs.

While overall fraud declined in 2010, the mean consumer out-of-pocket cost due to identity fraud increased 63 percent from $387 in 2009 to $631 per incident in 2010, Javelin said.

The findings give us pause for thought.

Javelin’s advice? Keep personal data private and don’t overshare on social networks.

In 2010, 14 percent of all identity fraud crimes were committed by someone previously known to the victim when the method was known.

People also like to connect with friends and acquaintances on social networks, but sometimes they share too much information.

Javelin research found that 36 percent of people aged 65+ do not use the privacy settings on their network potentially exposing crucial information to fraudsters. (The good news is that 89 percent of 25-34 year olds were actively using the privacy settings on social network sites.)

As for overall fraud trends, in 2010 the number of identity fraud victims declined by 28 percent to 8.1 million adults in the U.S., three million fewer victims than the prior year. Total annual fraud dropped to $37 billion from $56 billion – the smallest amount in the eight years of the study.

Stepped-up prevention efforts by businesses, increased security measures and economic conditions contributed to the year-over-year decline, Javelin said.

Check out I.I.I. info on ID theft.

Cyber Risks Increase During Holiday Shopping Weekend

Holiday shopping season is almost upon us. A week from today is Cyber Monday which along with Black Friday — the day after Thanksgiving, are the most popular days to shop for the holidays.

Shopping online may be easier than braving the crowds of the mall, but it’s important to make sure that convenience doesn’t come at the price of your identity.

An annual survey by internet security firm Webroot  of more than 2,660 individuals in the U.S., UK and Australia, found that some of consumers’ online habits – including using search engines and public WiFi for online gift buying – may put them at risk.

It also found that one in seven respondents has already become a victim of credit, debit or PayPal account fraud this year.

In addition, 57 percent received phishing emails from bogus sources claiming to be a legitimate company – a risk that increases around Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Fortunately some online shoppers appear to be growing more vigilant.

A separate poll by the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) found that the majority of Americans (64 percent) report they have not made an online purchase from a specific website because of security concerns.

When asked to explain why they did not make that purchase, 60 percent said it was because they were not sure if the site was secure, 51.4 percent were worried about providing information requested, and 48.4 percent felt a website more requested more information than was necessary for the transaction.

What about insurance? The good news is that identity theft may be covered by insurance. Some homeowners and auto policies include identity theft protection and resolution services at no additional cost.

Check out I.I.I. facts and stats on identity theft  and tips for avoiding  identity theft.

The Dangers of Searching Online

And now for some celebrity news.

Cameron Diaz, Julia Roberts and Jessica Biel are the riskiest celebrities to search for on the Internet.

Yes – this trio of American actresses top the list of most dangerous celebrities in cyberspace, according to Internet security company McAfee.

Meanwhile, politicians like U.S. president Barack Obama and, dare we mention her name  in the same sentence, Sarah Palin are among the safest.

McAfee research found that searching for the latest Cameron Diaz pictures and downloads yields a 10 percent chance of landing on a website that’s tested positive for online threats, such as spyware, adware, spam, phishing, viruses and other malware.

Clicking on these risky sites and downloading files like photos, videos or screensavers exposes surfers or consumers to the risk of downloading the viruses and malware designed to steal their personal information, the study revealed.

McAfee noted that while consumers are getting smarter about searching online, cybercriminals are getting sneakier in their techniques. Dave Marcus, security researcher for McAfee Labs, says:

Now they’re hiding malicious content in ‘tiny’ places like shortened URLs that can spread virally in social networking sites and Twitter, instead of on websites and downloads.†

In case you were wondering, three of Victoria’s Secret top models are among the top 10 this year. Searching for downloads of Gisele BÃ ¼ndchen (#4), Adriana Lima (#6), and Heidi Klum (#9) can result in landing on a high percentage of risky sites.

Leading men Brad Pitt (#5) and Tom Cruise (#8) also made the top 10.

Check out I.I.I. information on identity theft.

Hack Attack

Data breaches across a range of industries continue to compromise companies’ cyber defense systems and data and the personal information of their customers. This week’s headline news that more than 75,000 computer systems at nearly 2,500 companies and government agencies around the world have been hacked over the last 18 months is a reminder of this growing exposure. Perhaps even more concerning, in a February 18 Wall Street Journal article security firm NetWitness says that the hacking operation is still running and it isn’t yet clear to what extent it has been contained. The attack comes just a month after reports that the computer networks at Google and around 30 other U.S. corporations had been compromised. Latest reports suggest those attacks have been traced to computers at two educational institutions in China. Javelin Research & Strategy’s recently released 2010 Identity Fraud Survey Report noted that personal identification most likely to be compromised in a data breach continues to be full name (63 percent) and physical address (37 percent). Health insurance information is increasingly being targeted (up 4 percent in 2009), while the percentage of social security numbers compromised decreased to 32 percent in 2009 from 38 percent in 2008. In that same report, Javelin said the number of identity fraud victims in the U.S. increased by 12 percent to 11.1 million adults in 2009. Total annual losses increased by 12.5 percent to $54 billion. However, the report also found that proactive measures by financial institutions, businesses and consumers are helping reduce costs. More than 5,000 U.S. consumers were interviewed for the survey. Check out I.I.I. info on ID theft.

ID Theft Rules: House Passes Limited Exemption

Our fellow bloggers at Workers Comp Insider tipped us off that this week is Protect Your Identity Week, so it seems fitting to end it with a post on ID theft. This is a timely reminder that fast approaching is the November 1 deadline by which financial institutions and creditors have to comply with the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) so-called “red flags rule† which requires them to develop and implement written identity theft programs. Regular readers will remember that the FTC has delayed enforcement of the new rule a number of times. Now an October 21 online article at Lawyers USA by Kimberly Atkins reports that earlier this week the House passed H.R. 3763, a bill that would amend the Fair Credit Reporting Act to exempt certain businesses from the red flag guidelines. Under the bill, healthcare, accounting and legal practices that employ fewer than 20 people would automatically be exempt from the red flags rule. Atkins also mentions that officials at the American Bar Association, which has filed suit to have attorneys exempted from the red flags rule, are urging the Senate to extend the protections to all lawyers. Check out I.I.I. facts and stats on Identity Theft.

ID Theft Indictment

The indictments of three individuals allegedly responsible for five corporate data breaches including the single largest data breach in history is a reminder of the risk businesses face from this threat. Yesterday’s indictment by the Department of Justice describes a scheme in which more than 130 million credit and debit card numbers together with account information were stolen from payment processor Heartland Payment Systems, 7-Eleven Inc and supermarket chain Hannaford Brothers Co. For more on this story, check out today’s New York Times article by Brad Stone. ID theft remains the number one consumer complaint received by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), accounting for 32 percent of all fraud complaints in 2007. Some 258,427 identity theft complaints were reported to the FTC in 2007, up 5 percent on the previous year. Check out I.I.I. info on ID theft.