Last week, I spent some time reading the "2008 Identity Fraud Research Report" by Javelin Strategy And Research. Javelin survey about 5,000 adults and identity-theft victims in the United States. Key findings from the survey:
- There is a difference between "Identity theft" and "Identity Fraud." Identity Theft is when, "your personal information is accessed by someone else without your explicit permission. Identity Fraud occurs when a criminal takes the illegally-obtained information to use it for financial gain."
- The most common ways criminals steal consumers' personal data: lost/stolen wallets (33%); "shoulder surfing" while conducting a transaction (23%); "friendly" theft by family members oro others you know (17%); online (12%); and data breaches (7%).
- Vishing is on the rise. Vishing is a phone-based version of the phishing scam. Vishing is when criminals attempt to trick a consumer into providing personal data over the phone. In some instances, criminals contact consumers fist via e-mail with a bogus phone number for replies
So, what can consumers do to protect themselves? Javelin recommends a 3-step approach (e.g., Prevention, Detection, Resolution) similar to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (e.g., Deter, Detect, Defend). The basic idea is that consumers should use a range of methods to protect their personal data, since criminals use a variety of methods to steal personal data.
Javelin recommends the following to prevent identity theft and identity fraud:
- Protect your personal computer, laptop, PDA, and mobile phone with paswords
- Do not use PIN numbers or passwords that are easily guessed (e.g., birthdays, your maiden name, your kids' names, your pet's name, etc.)
- Shred sensitive documents before placing them in the trash
- Use a locked mailbox or a Post Office Box for your snail mail
- Do not leave documents with your personal data laying around, especially documents with your bank account numbers or social security number
- Monitor your online accounts (e.g., bank, credit card, retirement, and othe financial accounts) for suspicious or unauthorized activity
- Move your paper financial statements to online accounts. Avoid paying bills with checks, and instead pay via online banking
- Review your credit reports at least once a year. You can visit annualcreditreport.com or call toll-free at (877) 322-8228
Tomorrow: more recommendations by Javelin.