Feature Article
Mark Pribish
Consumers Rank Identity Theft the Second Highest Risk Factor
By Mark Pribish
Vice President and ID Theft Practice Leader

According to InfoSecurity Magazine (please see here) ID thieves are getting more successful at leveraging stolen data for ill-gotten gains. Of the 16 million victims notified in 2012 that their payment card information was compromised in a data breach, more than 25% of them also suffered identity theft.

The above InfoSecurity article referenced a September 2013 Javelin Strategy & Research report titled Data at Rest is Data at Risk (please see here) which revealed that payment card and Social Security number data breach victims suffer the highest rates of related fraud, especially in the retail, financial and healthcare sectors.

ID Theft

Of the 16 million consumers receiving data breach notification letters, Javelin Strategy & Research highlighted the following:

  • 4.4 million consumers were notified that their payment card information was compromised resulting in ID Theft specific to their existing credit or debit cards.
  • 1.26 million consumers were notified that their Social Security numbers were compromised and became victims of identity theft.
  • 270,000 consumers were notified that their online banking credentials were compromised and experienced ID Theft related to their checking and savings accounts.
  • 324,000 consumers had their bank account numbers compromised and became ID Theft victims related to their checking, savings or other financial accounts.

Based on the above, it is easy to understand how consumers rank identity theft the second highest risk factor (just under financial concerns but more interestingly above health concerns and personal safety) as a significant consumer risk factor (please see here).

The Travelers Consumer Risk Index is a new, annual survey of the risks Americans believe are most prevalent in their lives.

For example, just a half of a generation ago, identity theft and distracted driving did not exist. On the other hand, some risks stand the test of time such as financial concerns.

While you can read the Travelers Consumer Risk Index report here (click to read) I have listed below the Top 5 Risks including:

  1. Financial Concerns and Risks - 68%
  2. Risk of Personal Privacy Loss/Identity Theft - 64%
  3. Risk of Serious Health Problem - 60%
  4. Personal Safety Concerns and Risks - 44%
  5. Extreme Weather/natural disasters - 43%

Whether you are an individual consumer or a small business owner, you need to think about new and old risks and how to be proactive in protecting yourself, your family and/or your small business.


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

Name Game Shame, Who's to Blame?

It takes a lot of effort to build a brand name and get your company the recognition it deserves. A name is everything. If customers are unable to remember the name of your company, you lose business to whomever they are able to remember. Creating a name for your company can take a great deal of thought. For example, a name like "Joe's Plumbing" is direct and helps to identify who owns the company and the type of business. However, potential customers may not find that name as appealing as "Tri-City Plumbing Services", which sound more official and professional. Both companies may very well offer the same level of quality service, but the names imply a different level of professionalism. Sometimes a name really does say it all.

Now imagine that after years of hard work building your brand image and becoming a household name that someone comes along and uses your company's name for their gain, without your consent. Commonly known as "hijacking", some unfortunate companies have already fallen victim to this piracy.

How It Works:

According to a recent Scam Alert from the Better Business Bureau (read the article here), scammers are creating fake websites using real company names and logos to steal information, plant malware, capture credit card information, and even redirect traffic to another fake site to sell knockoff products. Perhaps even worse than that, these same scammers are even using real company names to order large and expensive items which are then sent to an address that is different from the real company's address. To add icing to the proverbial cake, the real business is stuck with the bill.

Your Defense:

The key to recovering from this type of scam is to first identify that your company name and brand is being used without your consent. The article from the Better Business Bureau lists some warning signs to help identify if your company has been the victim of a "hijacking":

  • You receive a request to verify orders you didn't place
  • You receive calls from someone trying to verify an address for your business that is not associated with your company
  • You receive invoices for storage or shipping services that you didn't place

If any of the above have already happened to you, it may already be too late. If they have not, you should consider regularly searching for your company on the internet. Using your favorite search engine, you might be able to identify sites masquerading as your company. You can also set up Google Alerts for your company name here http://www.google.com/alerts. Google Alerts will send you an email alert any time a keyword you provide (in this case your company name) is used on a webpage on any website that is crawled and/or cached by Google's search bots. Some alerts may be about your own company's website, but at least you will know it is yours, and not some scammer's site.

If your company has become a "hijacking" victim, gather as much information as you can and notify your local law enforcement agencies and file a complaint with the FTC (https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/).

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