FEATURE ARTICLE

Mark Pribish

ID Theft Victims Report Increased Stress and Fatigue

ITRC Aftermath®: The Non-Economic Impacts of Identity Theft Victim Impact Survey Finds
By Mark Pribish
Vice President and ID Theft Practice Leader

I was in Washington, D.C. last month where the Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC), a nationally recognized 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization established to support victims of identity theft released the initial findings of its The Aftermath®: The Non-Economic Impacts of Identity Theft victim impact survey.

As a new member of the Board of Directors to the ITRC, I was very interested in learning how this survey went beyond the known financial indicators caused by identity theft and instead, explored the emotional, physical and psychological impacts experienced by victims of identity crime.

ITRC

The survey participants were actual ID theft victims who contacted the ITRC for assistance in 2017. The survey found that "many of the respondents experienced negative emotional impacts that resulted in real physical consequences. As an example, of the individuals that responded, 77.3 percent reported increased stress levels and 54.5 percent had increased fatigue or decreased energy."

"Year after year, The Aftermath® survey continues to show that the effects of identity theft are far-reaching: impacting victims' general emotional and physical well-being, their relationships with others and even how they engage within their work or school environments," said Eva Velasquez, president and CEO of the Identity Theft Resource Center. "As we work with industry and other stakeholders, it's crucial to continue to share the emotional, physical and socio-economic impact findings with them so they better understand the totality of the ramifications of this crime, as well as providing encouragement for them to elicit change within their organizations."

According to this year's survey, additional findings included:

  • Due to their identity theft incident, nearly 46 percent of those surveyed said they felt like they couldn't trust family while 55 percent stated they had trust issues with friends.
  • Respondents admitted the identity theft incident caused problems at their place of employment (32 percent) and at school (eight percent).

To access the preliminary findings of The Aftermath® for 2018, you can go to https://www.idtheftcenter.org/aftermath2018/. The full report will be available in the Spring of 2019.

For those readers unfamiliar with the Identity Theft Resource Center, it was founded in 1999 and is a nationally recognized non-profit organization established to support victims of identity theft in resolving their cases, and to broaden public education and awareness in the understanding of identity theft, data breaches, cyber security, scams/fraud, and privacy issues.

The fact is data breaches continue to happen at an alarming rate and it is getting worse. In just the last two months, Facebook (50 million users) and Google (500,000 users) experienced data breach events.

Based on the number of data breaches that continue to impact the total number of ID theft victims — where more Americans than ever (16.7 million) became a victim of ID theft last year — I believe the ITRC is a great resource to use — and an even greater opportunity to give back by making an annual donation.

To conclude and as we near the end of 2018, your tax deductible financial contribution will support the ITRC which provides no-cost victim assistance and consumer education through its call center, website, social media channels, live chat feature and ID Theft Help app. For more information, you can visit: http://www.idtheftcenter.org.

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

Top 5 Riskiest Scams for Military Families & Veterans

By Better Business Bureau. November 5, 2018.

We're kicking off a series of articles this November about how to protect you and your loved ones from scams. Service members, veterans, and their families are common targets for fraud, with a median reported loss of $280 last year—27% higher than the general population.1 We know how much you give to your country, and want to help you keep your hard-earned money safe. That's why we cracked open the data books to identify the top five most risky scams you need to know.

The Better Business Bureau receives thousands of reports per year from active-duty service members, military families, and veterans through our crowd-sourced scam reporting tool, BBB Scam TrackerSM. We then applied the BBB Risk Index, which measures risk according to exposure, likelihood of losing money, and median monetary loss. This gives us a better sense of which scams not only take the biggest financial toll on military consumers, but also which kind of scams will most likely result in a loss. Here are the top five most risky scams from lowest to highest risk:

5. Tech Support Scams
A warning pops up on your screen with the dreaded words: You Have Been Infected. Immediately, the panic sets in: you need to keep in touch with family and loved ones, and prevent all of your valuable files and information from being lost forever. A phone number appears on the screen, or you get a phone call from someone claiming to be from a well-known tech support company. No matter how much the screen is flashing, or how loud the warning is blasting on your computer—try to stay calm. Scammers use fear to lower your defenses and lure you out of hundreds of dollars. Immediately shut down your device and reboot. Do not give control of your device to a third party that contacts you. Instead, reach out directly to a local business or online service provider you trust. Watch this video from our friends at the FTC to learn more about tech support imposters.

4. Online Purchase Scams
Nearly three out of every four military consumers reporting an online purchase scam told us they lost money to a fraudster. Between frequent moves and changing financial situations, families are buying and selling more items online—and falling into common scammer traps. No matter where you're stationed, purchase items from reputable retailers with a verifiable physical address and a secure website. If you're selling your items or purchasing them from individuals, use reputable online marketplace sites and apps that offer protections so your transaction is safer and more secure.

3. Fake Check/Money Order Scams
With the increased use of credit cards and other forms of digital payment, it's easy to forget how checks actually work and how to tell if a check is fraudulent. Scammers take advantage of this in a number of ways. One strategy fraudsters use is to overpay you for a product or service with a check. The scammer will tell you to just send him or her the difference by wire transfer—and maybe even let you keep a few extra bucks for your trouble. Remember: a check may "clear" in your account, but you are still responsible for the funds—even if it turns out to be fake weeks later. Be immediately suspicious of overpayments, and don't wire or send money to someone you do not know. Learn more about fake check scams in our latest Investigative Report.

2. Home Improvement Scams
When you're new in town, it can be hard to know who to trust with your home repairs. Sixty-one percent of military consumers who reported a home improvement scam lost money, which is significantly higher than the 50% across all consumer types.2 No matter how trustworthy someone may seem at your door, you should always verify their credentials. Say no to cash-only deals, high-pressure sales tactics, payments made upfront, handshake deals without a contract, and on-site inspections. Get details in writing and verify reputable contractors and home improvement professionals at BBB.org.

1. Employment Scams
By a landslide, the most risky scam for military spouses and veterans is employment scams; the median dollars reported lost was $1,715 — nearly double that reported across all consumers.3 Whether you're looking for a flexible opportunity close to home or hoping to secure your first civilian job, it can be difficult to identify if an opportunity is made for you or just plain made up. That's why we're dedicating next week's article entirely to employment scams and how you can spot them!

Thanks to the more than 10,000 military consumers who contributed to this article by reporting scams they've encountered! You can search for scams in your community and warn others by visiting BBB.org/ScamTracker.

About BBB Military Line®: We help military service members, veterans, and their families protect their assets, plan for the future, and prosper in a trusted marketplace. Learn more at BBB.org/Military.

1 2017 BBB Scam Tracker Annual Risk Report: New Trends in Scam Risk.
2 Based on consumer reports into BBB Scam TrackerSM from February 2016 to August 2018.
3 Based on consumer reports into BBB Scam TrackerSM from February 2016 to August 2018.

To report a scam, go to BBB Scam Tracker (BBB.org/scamtracker). To protect yourself from all kinds of scams, visit the BBB Scam Tips page (BBB.org/scamtips).

Stay up on the latest scams by subscribing to BBB Scam Alerts emails. BBB Serving Central Virginia contributed to this report.

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