7 Identity Theft Trends That Everyone Should Know About
Last year the number of identity theft victims in the U.K. increased by a staggering 57%, according to figures from fraud prevention service Cifas. There were more than 148,000 victims in the U.K. in 2015 compared with 94,500 in 2014.
It’s all part of a global trend in identity crime where criminals collect and use stolen confidential information.
The three main types of identity crime are identity fraud (using a stolen or fictitious identity to open a new account or apply for products/services), identity theft (stealing personal information and assuming the identity) and account takeover (using confidential information to bypass security and take over existing accounts).
7 current identity crime trends:
Age of victims: Cifas reported a 52% rise in young identity fraud victims in the U.K. In 2015, almost 24,000 people aged 30 and under were victims of identity fraud. That number more than doubled since 2010.
Social media: Cifas confirmed that fraudsters are increasingly getting people’s personal information from social media sites. Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are being called “hunting grounds” for identity thieves by industry experts.
Business fraud: According to the 2016 Annual Fraud Indicator, business fraud in the U.K. accounted for three-quarters of all fraud.
Procurement issues: The Annual Fraud Indicator showed that procurement is most vulnerable to scams such as fake invoicing and awarding contracts in exchange for bribes. Other business-related frauds include charity frauds, mortgage lending, insurance sector fraud, and tax fraud.
Technology: More than 85% of frauds occur online. Schemes including skimming, phishing, and hacking are used to gather profile information of potential victims. Spyware and viruses also help gather personal information online.
Impersonation theft. A 2015 Forbes article warned about impersonation theft, whichis similar to phishing. A person is contacted (called or emailed) by someone claiming to be from the government and having some government-issued information (such as Social Security Number in the U.S.). The intended victim is told that they owe taxes or penalties – and payment is demanded. What’s important to know is that governments for the most part would not communicate this way. Anyone receiving this type of call or email should hang-up or delete.
Physical theft: Criminals still steal information by dumpster diving or physically stealing mail. Visual hacking can also occur in a workplace. Thieves that get into a workplace steal information from unsecured recycling bins, garbage bins, and from the top of desks.
Here is a quick checklist for preventing identity theft.
- Ensure all hard drives including laptops and mobile devices are encrypted and password protected.
- Be aware of what is being shared on social media websites. Take a cautious approach to information posted online.
- Keep all confidential information and documents secure. Use a document management process that includes secure destruction of confidential information when it is no longer needed. Partner with a document destruction company that specializes in paper and hard drive shredding services.
- Implement a Clean Desk Policy and a Shred-it all Policy.
- Provide security awareness training for all employees.
Introduce information security best practices to all your employees – and protect yourself and your organization.