Feature Article
Mark Pribish
2012 had the Second Highest Number of ID Theft Victims... Ever
By Mark Pribish
Vice President and ID Theft Practice Leader

Javelin Strategy & Research released it 2013 Identity Fraud Report (see the article here) on February 20, 2013 and reported that 12.6 million Americans were victimized by ID theft in 2012.

While ID Theft has been in the news over the last decade, the total number of 12.6 million ID Theft victims last year was the second-highest total since the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) began reporting victims in 2003 and nearly 1 million more than 2011, according to Javelin Strategy and Research. As a side note, the record of 13.9 million ID Theft victims took place in 2009.

This year's report – which was released during a period of numerous hacking stories this month - had the following four key findings:

  • Identity fraud incidents and amount stolen increased - the number of identity fraud incidents increased by one million more consumers over the previous year, and the dollar amount stolen increased to $21 billion, a three-year high but still significantly lower than the all-time high of $47 billion in 2004. This equates to 1 incident of identity fraud every 3 seconds.
  • 1 in 4 data breach notification recipients became a victim of identity fraud - in 2012, almost 1 in 4 consumers that received a data breach letter became a victim of identity fraud, which is the highest rate since 2010. This underscores the need for consumers to take all notifications seriously. Not all breaches are created equal. The study found consumers who had their Social Security number compromised in a data breach were 5 times more likely to be a fraud victim than an average consumer.
  • Fraudsters misuse information fewer days than before - consumer information was 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 credit cards, loans, bank accounts, mobile phone bills and other types of fraud due to consumer and industry action. More than 50 percent of victims were actively detecting fraud using financial alerts, credit monitoring or identity protection services and by monitoring their accounts.
  • Small retailers are losing out - fraud victims are more selective where they shop after an incident, and small businesses were the most dramatically impacted when they were the cause of the information breach. The study found that 15 percent of all fraud victims decided to change behaviors and avoid smaller online merchants. This is a much greater percentage than those that avoid gaming sites or larger retailers.

Javelin Strategy & Research also recommended that you be proactive in monitoring your accounts by working with your bank and credit card websites in setting up alerts that can be sent via e-mail and to mobile devices. The monitoring of bank and credit card accounts can be especially helpful to prevent ID Theft and fraud since 50 percent of fraud was first detected by the victims in 2012.

Finally, Javelin Strategy & Research encourages you to consider working with any of the numerous ID Theft service providers available to consumers who want extra protection and peace of mind including identity restoration, payment transaction alerts, credit monitoring, credit report fraud alerts, credit freezes and database scanning.

For example, some services can be obtained for a fee and others at no cost to those who are victims of a data breach. These services can restore your identity, monitor credit reports, public records and online activity for signs of fraudulent use of personal information.

Sincerely,
Mark

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

Not So Funny "Phony" Phone Calls

Telemarketing is a very lucrative business. Telemarketers calling all hours of the day sell everything from life insurance to garbage bags and everything in between. The number of telemarketers seems to have no end, and telemarketers seem relentless in the pursuit of making a sale. Telemarketers were barraging the nation so much that the FTC decided to create a way for consumers to opt out of receiving these annoying disruptions, and enforce punishment for violations of privacy. The FTC appropriately named this new organization the National Do Not Call Registry.

The concept is simple enough: you apply online to have a phone number or many numbers of your choice removed from all future telemarketing efforts. After your name and number has been on the national list for 31 days, you should no longer receive disruptive and unsolicited phone calls. Telemarketers covered by the Do Not Call Registry are required to remove any registered numbers from their call lists. If they do happen call a number that is on the do not call list, the telemarketing company can be fined.

Scammers are now taking advantage of this organization's identity and credibility in attempts to trick unsuspecting consumers into divulging their Personally Identifiable Information (PII).

How It Works:

You receive a phone call from someone claiming they represent the National Do Not Call Registry. They claim they need to verify your personal information, or ask if you would like to register to opt out of future telemarketing phone calls. The person on the phone does not really represent the National Do Not Call Registry at all and is in fact a scammer hoping you will provide some useful and personal information. If you give up too much information, you may become a victim of identity theft.

Your Defense:

The National Do Not Call Registry is aware of this particular scam and has even publicized it on their website, https://www.donotcall.gov/, in an effort to protect unsuspecting victims. Be aware that representatives of this organization do not make outbound calls to consumers, and neither do third parties on their behalf. Why would an organization aimed at reducing the invasion of your privacy by stopping unsolicited phone calls violate that trust by placing yet another unsolicited phone call to you in the first place? Your best option is to hang up the phone and report the incident.

Nobody, especially government run or related organizations, should ever ask you for your personal information over the phone if they call you unsolicited. If you initiate a phone call and trust the organization you have called, you may be required, depending upon the nature of the call and the organization itself, to disclose such information. Even still, you should exercise caution when doing so, and it is perfectly appropriate to ask how the information you provide may be used by the organization as well as how it will be protected.

Remember, even the government has no right to demand your personal information unexpectedly. You have the right to privacy. Be sure to exercise that right and keep your information safely where it belongs. With you.

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