Identity Theft at All Time High

By:  |  Category: Blog, Security Tuesday, February 27th, 2018  |  No Comments
Data Breach

More Social Security Numbers Stolen than Credit Cards

According to 2018 Identity Fraud Study from Javelin Strategy & Research, identity fraud has now reached “the level of an epidemic.” This last year had the most theft ever with a plethora of victims and enormous sums of money stolen.  An estimated 16.7 million Americans were victimized last year, eight percent higher from 2016 or 1.3 million more victims.

In 2017, $16.8 billion was stolen, the highest amount in four years. Criminals are shopping online with stolen credit card numbers, siphoning money from bank accounts, assuming control of mobile phone accounts, and even taking loyalty rewards points.

This year marks the first time that  data breaches compromised more Social Security numbers (35 percent) than credit card numbers (30 percent). The Equifax breach had a large part to do with that.

Al Pascual, Javelin’s research director and head of fraud and security, expects 2018 to be another record year for identity fraud because thieves have adapted to new security measures. “They’re smarter now. They have all the data they need to commit fraud and they know exactly how to use it,” Pascual told NBC News. “They’re getting more sophisticated faster than we can respond — and that’s the big problem.”

One part of the research reveals some good news. The switch to chip-based EMV cards, which are nearly impossible to counterfeit, has dramatically reduced fraud at the point-of-sale. Visa recently reported that merchants with chip-reader payment terminals saw counterfeit card fraud losses drop 66 percent in June 2017 compared to June 2015.

Criminals are responding to EMV cards by adjusting away from from physical locations to digital channels. They’re using stolen credit and debit card numbers to shop online or over the phone — where they don’t need a physical card, just the stolen account information.

Card-not-present fraud (CNP) is now 81 percent more likely than point-of-sale fraud (POS), the greatest gap Javelin has ever observed. Last year, nearly twice as many consumers had their cards misused in a CNP transaction than at the cash register.

Armed with your personal information, such as Social Security number, date of birth, and password, criminals can take over your existing financial accounts — to steal money or go shopping — or open new accounts in your name for their nefarious purposes.

New-account fraud skyrocketed 70 percent in 2017, Javelin found, as criminals used stolen information to open new mobile phone accounts, online payment accounts, and e-commerce accounts.

During the holiday shopping period, cybercrime attacks accounted for more than 10 percent of all network traffic, according to a new report from ThreatMetrix. “It is likely fraudsters had cultivated a number of test accounts prior to this period, choosing to attack under the cover of high transaction volumes and larger basket sizes, hoping that their behavior is less likely to flag as high risk,” the report noted.

“The environment has gotten riskier” with attack rates up 44 percent in 2017 and increasingly coming from mobile devices, Vanita Pandey, said vice president for product marketing and strategy at ThreatMetrix. “At the same time, it’s getting harder for businesses to differentiate between a good customer and a bad one, because the cybercriminals are able to stitch together proper identities and mimic the patterns of trusted users to evade detection.”

The never-ending wave of data breaches is causing American consumers to lose trust in the institutions that collect and store their personal data.

The public is also growing skeptical about how data breaches are handled, Javelin found. People increasingly believe breach notifications “principally serve to protect the interests of the breached company” and do little to protect them. Slightly more than half (53 percent) of all consumers and 64 percent of breach victims feel this way.

However, there are things everyone can do to reduce their chances of getting burned or victimized again:

  • Turn on two-factor authentication wherever possible: Requiring a separate action after providing a user name and password to access an account makes it significantly more difficult for fraudsters to take over your accounts.
  • Secure all of your devices: Criminals have shifted their focus to mobile devices for access to accounts and the information they store or transmit. Secure online and mobile devices with a screen lock, encrypt data stored on these devices, install security software and avoid public Wi-Fi unless you use a Virtual Private Network (VPN).
  • Place a security freeze or lock on your credit files: This will help prevent anyone from opening a new financial account in your name. There may be a small fee to freeze your account at Experian and TransUnion. Equifax will do it for free until June 30. Both Equifax and TransUnion offer a free locking service.
  • Sign up for account alerts: Most financial institutions and credit card companies make it possible for customers to receive notifications by text or email about a variety of transactions. These alerts, which include ATM withdrawals, foreign transactions, and card-not-present purchases, give you real-time updates that make it easy to quickly spot suspicious activity.
  • Use an Identity Theft protection system.

If you need assistance with an identity theft protection system or dark web monitoring, give EnhancedTECH a call at 714-970-9330 or contact us at sales@enhancedtech.com.

 

Samantha Keller

Samantha Keller

Director of Marketing and PR at EnhancedTECH
Samantha Keller (AKA Sam) is a published author, tech-blogger, event-planner and mother of three fabulous humans. Samantha has worked in the IT field for the last fifteen years, intertwining a freelance writing career along with technology sales, events and marketing. She began working for EnhancedTECH ten years ago after earning her Bachelor’s degree from UCLA and attending Fuller Seminary. She is a lover of kickboxing, extra-strong coffee, and Wolfpack football.Her regular blog columns feature upcoming tech trends, cybersecurity tips, and practical solutions geared towards enhancing your business through technology.
Samantha Keller
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