Mark Pribish

New U.S. report: Most ID theft is non-financial

By Mark Pribish
Vice President and ID Theft Practice Leader

Imagine criminals want to steal your household belongings and you watch only one door - even though there are three doors. If you have or are contemplating purchasing credit monitoring, that's not bad, but it absolutely won't help stop the biggest and most prevalent forms of ID theft.

ID theft is the No. 1 consumer complaint for the 15th consecutive year according to the Federal Trade Commission Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book, which was released last week. The types of identity theft and the ages of the victims outlined in the new report might surprise you.

The Consumer Sentinel Network, known as CSN, is a secure online database of millions of consumer complaints available only to law enforcement. They report that 38.7 percent of ID theft complaints are related to government documents and benefits fraud, and that most of these complaints (nearly 33 percent) were attributed to tax or wage-related fraud such as taxpayer ID theft and refund fraud. Credit monitoring doesn't help with these abuses at all.

The CSN complaints are based on consumers completing and submitting an official FTC affidavit based on a consumer's actual experience and not based on a consumer survey.

Below is a complete list of how victims reported being abused by ID theft, per information from the FTC. The numbers tally more than 100 percent because people may have been victims of multiple types of ID theft.

  • Government documents/benefits fraud: 38.7 percent.
  • Credit card fraud: 17.4 percent.
  • Phone or utilities fraud: 12.5 percent.
  • Bank fraud: 8.2 percent.
  • Employment-related fraud: 4.8 percent.
  • Loan fraud: 4.4 percent.
  • Other identity theft: 21.8 percent.

The scary awakening for us all is the summary of the above data with 70 percent of consumers hit by non-financial ID theft, which means it won't be on a credit report and therefore credit monitoring won't help one bit.

Another FTC complaint category is identity theft complaints by victims' age (see chart below). I recommend that each age group pay close attention and especially those 50s and above, as 39 percent of all ID-theft complaints were from those age 50 and older.

  • 19 and younger: 6 percent.
  • 20-29: 18 percent.
  • 30-39: 18 percent.
  • 40-49: 19 percent.
  • 50-59: 19 percent.
  • 60-69: 13 percent.
  • 70 and older: 7 percent.

Based on all of the recent data breach events making headline news, including Anthem, Morgan Stanley and now Uber, I believe consumer ID theft complaints to the FTC will continue to increase. I anticipate the number of consumer complaints next year to be even higher.

Since the average victim of identity theft spends numerous hours, weeks, months, and in some cases years trying to recover from financial or non-financial ID theft and fraud, consumers need to increase their education and vigilance to the two fastest-growing forms of ID theft: taxpayer ID theft and fraud and medical ID theft.

If you are in the market for identity theft solutions, be sure the offering includes ID theft restoration, as it's not a matter of "if" but "when" you will become a victim. The top ID theft services will help you emerge from the headaches, aggravation and losses that ID theft can cause, whether financial, medical, government document or any other type of identity theft.

Watch all of the ID theft "doors", consider the FTC's report and consider more than credit monitoring to protect yourself.


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.


Police Report Jump in ATM Skimming

Be sure to use caution when withdrawing money from automated teller machines.

March 21, 2016

Be sure to use caution when withdrawing from automated teller machines, especially in convenience stores and gas stations. Police departments have reported an uptick in skimming devices on ATMs.

How the Scam Works

You need cash, so you stop at a gas station with an ATM. You head to the back of the shop and insert your card into the machine. You may not notice anything strange, but scammers have attached a skimmer to the card reader. These devices "skim" your card's information off the magnetic strip.

Many times, scammers also set up a camera nearby. It's pointed at the ATM in order to capture the user typing their PIN into the machine. With these two pieces of information, scammers can access and withdraw money from your account.

Many police departments are reporting higher than normal cases of ATM skimming. The spike may be tied to banks rolling out new chip cards, which have encryption technology to make them much more difficult to hack. Until the new technology is fully implemented, scammers are taking full advantage of the current situation.

Protect Yourself from an ATM Skimmer:

  • Use ATMs at banks whenever possible. Avoid ATMs in a low traffic or low light areas. It is typically more secure to use ATMs at banks rather than standalone machines.
  • Protect your PIN. Place your hand or a piece of paper over the keypad when entering your number.
  • Look for signs of skimmers. Tape is often used to attach the skimming devices; if something looks odd, wiggle it to make sure it doesn't come loose.
  • Be wary of strange signs. Some con artists attach signs to ATMs providing alternate instructions, such as telling users to swipe their card on a separate reader first. If something looks out of place, find a different ATM and report it to the bank or store manager, or to the police.
  • If someone offers to "help" you use the ATM, immediately decline and leave. If you feel uncomfortable with the individual, go somewhere well lit or lock yourself in your car and call the police emergency number.
  • Be cautious of ATM failures. If the machine doesn't give you money, or gives you an immediate message that the machine malfunctioned, call the financial institution and let them know.
  • Report any problems. Only call a number you know is real, such as the one on the back of your card. Don't call a number posted next to the ATM, as that could be part of the scam. If you aren't sure, call the police non-emergency number.

For More Information:

This article from New Jersey's NJ.com provides a thorough overview of how skimming works and provides more tips for how to protect yourself.

To find out more about other scams, check out BBB Scam Stopper (bbb.org/scam).

See more at: http://www.bbb.org/council/news-events/bbb-scam-alerts/2016/03/police-report-jump-in-atm-skimming/#sthash.O2MEYBHt.dpuf

To report a scam, go to BBB Scam Tracker (bbb.org/scamtracker).

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

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