FEATURE ARTICLE

Mark Pribish

Almost half of all Identity Theft was non-financial in 2016

By Mark Pribish
Vice President and ID Theft Practice Leader

Imposter scam complaints surpassed identity theft for the first time as the second most common category of consumer complaints received by the Federal Trade Commission's (FTC) Consumer Sentinel Network Report in 2016 (see here: https://www.ftc.gov/reports/consumer-sentinel-network-data-book-january-december-2016).

While debt collection complaints remained the top consumer complaint category, the rise in impostor scam reports is due to an increase in complaints about government imposters. According to the FTC, "an example of an imposter scam is when a scammer pretends to be someone trustworthy, such as a government official or computer technician to convince a consumer to send money. Imposter scams also topped the list of complaints from military consumers followed by identity theft complaints."

The FTC also reported identity theft victims by age where 40% of all victims were 50 years of age or older (see below).

Consumer Sentinel Network Identity Theft Complaints by Victims' Age

In 2016, the FTC collected more than 3.1 million consumer complaints and separated these "complaints by how victims' information is misused" including taxpayer ID theft and Fraud, credit card fraud, phone or utilities fraud, bank fraud, loan fraud, government documents or benefits fraud, and other (please see below).

  • Employment or ID Theft Tax-Related Fraud – 34%
  • Credit Card Fraud – 32.7%
  • Phone or Utilities Fraud – 13.1%
  • Bank Fraud – 11.8%
  • Loan or Lease Fraud – 6.8%
  • Government Documents or Benefits Fraud – 6.6%
  • Other Identity Theft – 16%

The FTC said that 29% of 2016 consumers reported that their data was used to commit taxpayer ID theft and fraud. There was also a jump in those consumers who reported that their stolen data was used for credit card fraud; this figure rose from nearly 16 percent in 2015 to more than 32 percent in 2016.

Overall, there was a significant increase in financial identity theft from 25% in 2015 to 51.3% in 2016.

This means that almost half, 48.7%, of all Identity Theft was non-financial in 2016.

The FTC reported that "a total of 662,209 consumers reported losing $744.5 million through fraud in 2016, for an average $1,124 each."

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

SCAM ALERT: Debt Collection Con Gets New Twist

March 9, 2017

Beware, a new twist on cash advancement scams

Debt collection scams are one of the most frightening and persistent types of cons. Watch out for a new twist that claims to be collecting on cash advances!

How the Scam Works:

You receive an automated call. It's from a company claiming to be collecting payment for a cash advance. The recording prompts you to stay on the line and speak to an agent.

Don't do it! These calls often turn threatening. The "agent" will request you pay your debt immediately using a wire transfer or prepaid debit card. If you refuse, the "debt collector" will try to intimidate you. Targets report being threatened with arrest, lawsuits or garnished wages.

Despite the threats, these phony collection agents don't have any legal power. In most cases, the alleged cash advance doesn't exist.

Protect Yourself from Debt Collector Cons:

To keep yourself protected against debt collector scams know your rights.

  • Just hang up: If you don't have any outstanding loans, hang up. Don't press any numbers or speak to an "agent."
  • Ask the debt collector to provide official "validation notice" of the debt. In the US and most of Canada, debt collectors are required by law to provide the information in writing. The notice must include the amount of the debt, the name of the creditor and a statement of your rights. If the self-proclaimed collector won't provide the information, hang up.
  • Ask the caller for his/her name, company, street address, and telephone number. Then, confirm that the collection agency is real.
  • Do not provide or confirm bank account, credit card or other personal information over the phone until you have verified the call.
  • Check your credit report. In the US, check with one of the three national credit reporting companies (Equifax, TransUnion, Experian). In Canada, check with Equifax Canada. This will help you determine if you have outstanding debts or if there has been suspicious activity.
  • Place a fraud alert on your credit report. If the scammer has personal information, place a fraud alert with the three national credit reporting companies.

For More Information:

Check out this recent alert about cash advance collections scam from the Washington State Department of Financial Institutions.

Also, read this article from the Federal Trade Commission about dealing with fake debt collectors.

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.