Mark Pribish

2016 Had the Most Identity Theft and Fraud Victims Ever Recorded!

By Mark Pribish
Vice President and ID Theft Practice Leader

This 2017 Javelin Strategy & Research annual identity fraud study (https://www.javelinstrategy.com/coverage-area/2017-identity-fraud) found that a record 15.4 million consumers fell victim to identity theft and fraud in 2016, which represents the highest level of victims ever recorded in a one year period.

The Javelin Strategy study concluded that the number of identity fraud cases in 2016 increased by 2 million, or 16% from 2015, costing victims more than $16 billion in losses from both identity theft and credit card fraud.

While the study shows that 2016 was worse than 2015, the trend for ID theft and fraud has been bad since 2011. Between 2011 and 2016, the ID theft victim total has ranged from 11.6 and 15.4 million individuals (representing a 25% increase in just five years) in the United States costing anywhere between $15 billion and $22 billion annually.

According to Javelin Strategy (see below), approximately 1 in every 16 U.S. adults were victims of ID theft last year and identity theft criminals "have stolen $112 billion in the past six years – which equals $35,600 stolen per minute, or enough to pay for four years of college in just four minutes."

Javelin Research

As ID theft criminals and scammers continue to become more sophisticated, the problem of ID theft and fraud will continue in the foreseeable future.

Interestingly enough, the shift to EMV (Europay, Mastercard and Visa) the global standard for credit/debit cards equipped with microchip technology, was supposed to eliminate one type of ID Theft known as card cloning. Card cloning is when criminals steal account data and write it onto counterfeit cards used to make fraudulent in-store purchases.

The good news is that according to Visa, credit/debit card counterfeit fraud is down 52% at EMV-enabled stores, so the new technology is working.

The bad news is that ID theft and fraud criminals have simply begun to focus on "card-not-present fraud" which includes online purchases, where chips are not necessary. The Javelin report said card-not-present fraud rose a whopping 40% last year!

Finally, the Javelin report (see below) said that other forms of fraud also increased, including account takeover fraud, where a criminal steals credentials for an existing account, climbed 31% and new account fraud increased, with incidence rates up 20%.

Javelin Research

To conclude, more U.S. consumers have purchased some form of ID theft protection over the last six years than ever before, and yet there have been more ID theft victims and fraud losses (see above) than ever before.

What's the answer? Consumers should make sure their ID Theft subscription includes managed recovery - where a professionally trained recovery advocate will restore their identity, as it now seems inevitable that we will all need recovery services at some point in the future.


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 ALERT: BBB Warning - If Caller Asks "Can You Hear Me?" Just Hang Up

January 30, 2017

The Better Business Bureau is warning consumers about an old scam with a new twist. The "Can You Hear Me?" scam has long been used to coerce businesses into purchasing office supplies and directory ads they never actually ordered, but now it's targeting individual consumers, as well.

For the last few days of January, more than half of the reports to BBB Scam Tracker have been about this one scam. Consumers say the calls are about vacation packages, cruises, warranties, and other big ticket items. So far, none have reported money loss, but it's unclear how the scams will play out over time, or if the targets will be victimized at a later date.

Here's how it works: You get a call from someone who almost immediately asks "Can you hear me?" Their goal is to get you to answer "Yes," which most people would do instinctively in that situation. There may be some fumbling around; the person may even say something like "I'm having trouble with my headset." But in fact, the "person" may just be a robocall recording your conversation… and that "Yes" answer you gave can later be edited to make it sound like you authorized a major purchase.

BBB is offering consumers the following advice:

  • Use Caller ID to screen calls, and consider not even answering unfamiliar numbers. If it's important, they will leave a message and you can call back.
  • If someone calls and asks "Can you hear me?", do NOT answer "yes." Just hang up. Scammers change their tactics as the public catches on, so be alert for other questions designed to solicit a simple "yes" answer.
  • Make a note of the number and report it to bbb.org/scamtracker to help warn others. BBB also shares Scam Tracker information with government and law enforcement agencies, so every piece of information is helpful in tracking down scammers.
  • Consider joining the Do Not Call Registry (DoNotCall.gov) to cut down on telemarketing and sales calls. This may not help with scammers since they don't bother to pay attention to the law, but you'll get fewer calls overall. That may help you more quickly notice the ones that could be fraudulent.
  • Check your bank and credit card statements regularly for unauthorized charges. It's also a good idea to check your telephone and cell phone bills, as well. Scammers may be using the "Yes" recording of your voice to authorize charges on your phone. This is called "cramming" and it's illegal.

For More Information:

Courtesy of the Better Business Bureau - for more information visit http://www.bbb.org/phoenix/news-events/

To find out more about other scams, check out BBB Scam Stopper (bbb.org/scamstopper). To report a scam, go to BBB Scam Tracker (bbb.org/scamtracker).

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