Identity Theft continues to rank as the fastest growing form of fraudulent crime
A recent report by CIFAS - a not-for-profit company working to protect businesses, charities, public bodies and individuals from financial crime – revealed that prolific users of social media had experienced a 57% increase in incidences of misuse of their personally identifying information over last year. All because fraudsters were able to scrape their victims’ important personal data straight from social media profiles. Information such as birthdates, mother’s name, addresses, former residences and more can all be a key part of building an identity profile sufficient to enable access to accounts or the creation of new ones.
If preliminary estimates hold steady, the amount of fraud victims and the total amount lost to fraud in 2015 is virtually indistinguishable to the amount of fraud victims and the total amount lost to fraud in 2014. While it’s good to know that the rate of and the amount lost to fraud has not increased, it is actually quite worrisome that fraud figures have not decreased from 2014 to 2015.
If you’ve been paying attention to the news, you’ve probably noticed something: the rapid rise of data breaches. As the world becomes more and more interconnected and technology-dependent, more and more data is being stored online rather than the traditional method of filing away all the data on paper in file cabinets. While having an online database can exponentially streamline processes and therefore save businesses time and money, it can also open up businesses to security breaches by virtually anyone from anywhere in the world.
Before EMV became the standard in the United States, data thieves set their sights on payment card information: credit/debit card numbers along with the account owner’s name and billing address. However, thanks to the beefed-up security protocols provided by the EMV standard, thieves are finding it harder to create fraudulent payment cards that work and are now going after the data needed to create fraudulent payment cards and other financial channels, such as mortgage loans.
While it’s a bit of a relief that actual payment card numbers seem to be safer than in the past, the landscape of data theft is much more treacherous – the thieves are now targeting data that can compromise your entire identity. Now, if your any of your data gets stolen in a data breach, you can’t resolve the issue by simply canceling whichever payment card was compromised since thieves can open new payment cards in your name. Now, you have to monitor your credit report for years after the breach and spend a great deal of your time reclaiming your identity in the event it is used fraudulently in any way.
The following is a list of the ten biggest data breaches in 2015. It is worth noting that these may not actually be the biggest breaches since organizations who have suffered data breaches often do not disclose how many records were affected; the list is composed of organizations who have released the amount of records that were affected.
Before the advent of the internet, global electronic communications, and online databases, it was a simpler time for the world of fraud: mainly consisting of counterfeit money and documents signed with a forged signature. While these crimes caused inconvenience and loss, the extent of the damage was relatively limited in scope and financial loss compared to today.
Like most millennials, if you left college tens of thousands of dollars in debt with looming unemployment/underemployment on the horizon, there’s a good chance that you’ve done some unsavory activities, legal or illegal, that still brings about that tickle of regret and embarrassment in your stomach whenever you think about what you had to do to make ends meet. Of course, this is not to excuse the behavior of the man this post is going to be about, but rather, to highlight the fact that the cyber criminals stealing your identity and emptying your bank account are not sophisticated, Juilian Assange-esqe hackers: they are underemployed twenty-something year olds sitting at the kitchen table in their underwear and drinking a beer, using just a laptop and telephone to defraud some of the world’s largest financial institutions and their clients.
Young people who are under the drinking age have long looked to fake IDs to get around the law. While law enforcement has been fighting this risky behavior for decades, a new risk comes along with buying false identification- in the form of identity theft.
To combat the recent tidalwave of identity theft cases across the United States, the Internal Revenue Service is fighting back. Beyond implementing various new security measures and working with other government agencies to fight fraudulent filing, the IRS is now removing automatic extensions of W-2 forms. The current extension will remain in effect for another year, with the change going into effect in 2017.
Fraud is big business. The Federal Trade Commission has estimated that 10.8 percent of U.S. adults experienced fraud in 2011, with 37.8 million separate incidents reported. The frauds in this FTC report, which only scratches the surface of all types of fraud, from consumer to corporate, included: