Each year security experts pick apart the data on hacking events, data breaches and identity theft in order to understand the trends. By staying on top of the latest threats and criminal activity they can paint a better picture for lawmakers, advocates, law enforcement and consumers. One valuable piece of research each year is an annual identity fraud study produced by Javelin, which provides insight into understanding how identity fraud could manifest in the coming year.
In 2017, the study found there were a reported 16.7 million victims of identity-related crimes, a record-setting number that beat the previous year’s record-setting number. What were these crimes? They range from financial crimes that include things like account takeover, credit card and bank account misuse and large-scale purchases in someone else’s name to government benefits fraud and unauthorized use of someone’s medical profile to receive care.
The 8 percent increase in reports of identity-related crime over the previous year is alarming. There are some trends contributing to this uptick that you should be extra vigilant about in order to better safeguard your identity. Online credit card fraud, for example, has already passed point-of-sale fraud for volume of fraud cases. That means that a thief is more likely to use your card online than in a store, so signing up for “card not present” alerts will help you take action as soon as a purchase is made. Account takeover increased noticeably, so make sure your passwords are strong and each password is only used on one account and change your passwords every few months.
Javelin recommends taking the following steps to protect yourself:
- Secure your data as best you can; while no consumer can “prevent” the loss or theft of their identifying information, it is possible to strengthen the security of your data and privacy.
- Detect suspicious activity by signing up for alerts and notifications from financial institutions, monitoring bank statements and credit card bills, and requesting free copies of your credit report throughout the year.
- Take steps to resolve the issue. Don’t make the mistake of thinking this will go away on its own or there’s nothing you can do to stop further damage. Take action with your financial institution, local law enforcement agency, the Federal Trade Commission, and other key
The Identity Theft Resources Center is available to assist victims of these types of crimes at no-cost in addition to taking the steps that Javelin recommends. If you have the financial means, consider purchasing identity theft protection from a reputable provider who can help save you time on all of the aforementioned steps and further strengthen your protection. Leading identity protection providers offer services that can sometimes cut through the red-tape as well as having access to resources that may not be available without significant time and effort on your part.
You may not be able to prevent every instance of identity fraud, but with better awareness of both the crime and the tools at your disposal, you can feel more confident about fighting back.
Generali Global Assistance proudly provides financial support to the Identity Theft Resource Center.