Here’s What You Need to Do When Identity Crime Strikes
From a single fraudulent transaction to complex identity theft, identity crime can cause confusion and incite panic and fear – especially when it happens to you.
Identity crime is often a result of multiple factors collectively working together: the exposure and misuse, then theft of personal and financial data. In fact, only two data points are needed for identity thieves to commit synthetic identity theft – a type of identity crime that doesn’t require your entire identity.
Today’s connected world calls for us to better understand the three key areas of identity crime with tips to help address threats within each.
Data Exposure & Compromise
Nearly 79.1 million U.S. consumers were impacted by fraud, identity theft, and data breach events in 2017. This is not surprising as organizations have a 1 in 4 chance of experiencing a data breach.
And if data is leaked through a data breach, research notes that 1 in 3 will become a victim of identity theft.
Additionally, the increase in mobile devices, digital channels, and other Internet-enabled technology has created new avenues fraudsters can use to access sensitive personal and financial data. It’s common to see look-a-like phishing webpages that mimic a favorite retailer, bank portal or other impersonated entity. In fact, Webroot Threat Report found that around 1.5 million new phishing websites were created each month in 2017.
Think before you click. Most phishing emails will be presented with a sense of urgency or threatening language to convince you to act immediately. Never send personal or financial information to anyone via email or online unless it’s on a secure site or to a verified recipient.
Fraud & Asset Takeover
Financially-motivated fraud is one of the most popular forms of identity crime, making up 76 percent of data breaches in 2017. Financial account and card numbers, login credentials and Social Security numbers are the types of information targeted in these types of attacks.
Additionally, personal and public information can also play a major role in financially-motivated fraud. Fraudsters will need your personal data for verification purposes to ultimately gain access to your accounts.
Passwords also provide criminals with keys to your sensitive online accounts. These can include bank portals, healthcare and insurance dashboards, as well as other digital platforms that contain personal and financial information. Again, identity thieves can use your login credentials – paired with some of your personal data – to ultimately take over your online accounts.
Always create strong, unique passwords that include a combination of letters, numbers and special characters. Do not reuse banking passwords for other online accounts. Set up transactional alerts with your financial institution to know when fraudulent transactions have occurred, and check your financial statements regularly.
New Account Creation & Identity Theft
Fraud and identity theft are often used interchangeably; however, there are key distinctions between the two:
- Fraud refers to the misuse of your personal information. If you notice unfamiliar purchases on your payment cards, for example, that would be considered fraud.
- Identity theft, on the other hand, speaks to the actions taken by criminals assuming your identity. But applying for a loan, or opening a new financial account in your name would be considered identity theft.
When fraud evolves into identity theft, it can take hours, days, months and even years to recover. Instead of identifying certain activity as fraudulent on your existing accounts, you’re now faced with the challenge of proving an entire account was not created by you.
Pull your credit reports regularly to check for unfamiliar trades or inquiries that could indicate identity theft. File a report with the organization where the fraud or identity theft was found, as well as with law enforcement teams if necessary. View more tips and resources here.
Awareness & Prevention – Your Best Defense Against ID Crime
The unfortunate truth is that nobody can fully prevent fraud. Below are some resources that will help you learn more about the three different areas of identity crime, as well as tips and tricks to help recognize early signs of fraud and identity theft:
- Recent Data Breaches – Review the latest data breaches that we track each month on Fighting Identity Crimes.
- QUIZ: Phishing Emails – What’s a phishing email look like? Take this quiz to see if you could recognize the common signs of a phishing email scam.
- Young Adults and Identity Theft: Convenience vs. Security – Find out where Millennials and Gen-Z adults draw the line between convenience and security.
- The Circle of Identity Theft – Identity crime does not discriminate. See how identity theft impacts us differently at each stage of life
- Credit 101: Bureaus, Reports & ID Theft – Read about credit reports and how they can help you discover early signs of identity crime, especially when new accounts have been created in your name.
- Why Credit Freezes Fail – Learn why credit freezes don’t address over 80 percent of identity theft.
- Public Databases & Data Brokers – Do you know how much of your data is already online? Check out this list of public databases that could be collecting your personal information, and learn how to opt out.
- Password Strength Test – How long would it take for fraudsters to crack your passwords? See how strong your passwords are with our Password Strength Tool.
Continue following Fighting Identity Crimes to get the latest breach and scam updates, ID protection news & tips from our industry experts!
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The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of EZShield Inc. alone and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of any other person or entity, including specifically any person or entity affiliated with the distribution or display of this content.