Feature Article
Mark Pribish
Identity Theft grows 13% in 2011; learn who are the targets and how to protect yourself
By Mark Pribish
Vice President and ID Theft Practice Leader

According to the February 2012 Javelin Strategy & Research Identity Fraud Survey Report (please see an article about the report here) consumer AND small business Identity Theft continues to increase, as 2.2 million more Americans were affected by ID Theft in 2011 than in 2010.

For the sake of brevity, I have summarized the results from this year's Javelin Strategy & Research Identity Fraud Survey Report including:

  • Javelin's annual survey of 5,000 consumers suggests a significant rise in the rate of ID theft during 2011.
  • About 7.7 million Americans were hit with credit and debit card fraud in 2011, or about 2.2 million more than in the previous year.
  • The survey estimates that 11.6 million Americans were hit by ID theft in 2011, compared to 10.2 million in 2010.
  • Put another way, 4.9 percent of the U.S. adult population - roughly 1 in 20 adults - was affected by identity-related fraud last year.
  • Increases in fraud rates are even more pronounced on the small business and corporate side.
  • New account fraud is much more of a nightmare for victims, and more costly to financial institutions.
  • Smartphone users are about 30 percent more likely to report being hit by ID fraud.
  • Some 36 million Americans received a data breach notification in 2011.
  • Social media users are at greater risk of identity theft. Facebook users who friended strangers had a higher fraud rate of about 9 percent, compared with 5 percent for those who didn't.
  • Young people were targets for friendly fraud. More than a quarter of 18- to 24-year-olds were victims of friendly fraud, compared with 13 percent of all fraud victims. And friendly fraud victims lost an average of $3,544, a significantly higher loss than the average fraud cost of $1,513.
  • Those who received a notice were more than nine times as likely to also report being fraud victims.

In addition, the February 2012 Consumer Reports article on ID Theft protection subscriptions (see the article here) reported on the following:

  • Almost 50 million people subscribed to some form of identity-theft protection in 2010.
  • Those services cost about $120 to $300 a year, and according to Consumer Reports Magazine these services were of questionable value.

Finally, Smartphones and mobile applications which educate, entertain and keep all of us connected in a way we would never have thought about over the last decade share Personally Identifiable Information (PII) with cell phone companies and/or application (app) developers.

While many of us are active in social media like Facebook where we communicate to family and friends every place we go to or every social network we sign up on we do not think about how our personal and financial information is being used (e.g. being sold to third party marketers) or how safe our PII is in the event of a data breach event.

For example, did you know that Apple and several iPhone applications (apps) put your and your family's PII at a higher risk level of data breaches (please see the article here) where Twitter, Instagram and Path were caught storing contact lists without your permission.

To conclude, you need to be aware of the following:

  • ID Theft continues to affect all of us including men, women, children and students.
  • ID Theft will get worse before it gets better as technology continues to give ID Thieves an edge.
  • ID Theft is a bigger problem for small business and corporate America than anyone expected.
  • ID Theft is a bigger problem for individual consumers in America than anyone expected.
To learn more about these threats and how to protect yourself and your family from Identity Theft, you can read my past newsletters at the Merchants Identity Theft Educational Website at www.idtheftedu.com.


Scam Central

Online Used Vehicle Sales

In today's connected world, it is not altogether uncommon for many individuals to make almost every purchase online. These purchases may range from clothes, electronic devices or books, to groceries. Many would simply rather stay at home and have the world come to them. For those types, the Internet offers a huge convenience.

If you were the type of person that would rather stay at home, yet need to replace your vehicle, the option to purchase a used vehicle online and have it shipped directly to you would be a huge convenience. Not having to haggle with a used car salesperson is preferred. However, online shoppers need to exercise extra caution. As a recent article from David Horowitz points out, shopping for a vehicle online can have its drawbacks.

How It Works:

Here are just a few types of scams to look out for when purchasing a vehicle online.

  • False Auctions Scam This type of scam leads the buyer to think they are bidding for a vehicle, which in reality does not exist. The information may seem real, but the seller is fake and has lured many other individuals to bid on their vehicle, or used some software to make it appear that way. This only drives up the sales price and in the end sticks one individual with a nasty deduction from their bank account, and nothing to show for it.
  • Vehicle Shipments Scam This scam tricks the buyer into wiring funds to the seller before the vehicle can be shipped to them. The promise is that upon receipt of the funds, the vehicle will be shipped. However, once the funds are transferred, no vehicle ever arrives and the buyer can no longer make contact with the seller. The money is gone, and so are the hopes of getting the vehicle.
Your Defense:

There are plenty of legitimate vehicle deals made online daily. The key is to do your homework first. To avoid being ripped off, remember that just because a deal appears on eBay, Craigslist, or any other online site does not mean the offer is real. If the seller offers a phone number, call it. Get as many details about the vehicle as you can and look for inconsistencies. Look for other deals this seller has made and find feedback of any kind. If possible, have the seller give the VIN number and look the vehicle up through Carfax or another similar service to verify that the vehicle exists. While the VIN number may be real, the vehicle in question may not belong to the seller. Verify that the title is clean and that the car does belong to the seller. If you get that sinking feeling that something is not right with the deal, do not be afraid to call it off. Better safe than sorry.

While shopping online is convenient, these types of scams prove that online purchases are not always ideal. The safest bet would be to visit a dealership for this kind of purchase. After all, if you can see and touch a vehicle, the deal is more likely to be legitimate.

If you believe your identity has been stolen, call 866.SMART68 today.