Identity theft is on the rise again, hitting a three-year high and producing one new victim every three seconds in 2012, according to a study released Wednesday by Javelin Strategy & Research. Data breaches are responsible for much of the stolen personal information. One in four people who received a breach notification letter fell victim to identity theft, the study found, compared with one in five people in 2011.
Fallout from the upswing in identity theft is hurting small businesses. Fraud victims are more selective of where they shop after an incident, the study said. About 15 percent of all fraud victims actively changed their shopping behavior, avoiding smaller online merchants in favor of larger retail sites.
More than 12.6 million Americans were victims of identity theft in 2012, up by one million from 2011. All told criminals rung up $21 billion in stolen funds, goods and damages in 2012.
The Federal Trade Commission recently released a study on accuracy and consumer credit reports. The results are unsettling: As many as 40 million Americans may have mistakes on their credit reports; 20 million of those errors may be significant.
The big three credit reporting agencies—TransUnion, Experian and Equifax—collect consumer data from credit cards, banks and loan agencies we do business with, then profit by selling that information to new banks, merchants, insurance companies and even our employers. Consumer credit worthiness often is reduced to a number—your credit score—which can have dramatic effect on insurance and loan rates.
“This study highlights once again the need for consumers to be vigilant when it comes to checking their credit reports and adopting a culture of monitoring,” said Adam Levin, chairman and founder of IDentity Theft 911. “Consumers need to discover negative information, whether it is due to error or identity theft, as quickly as possible.”
The movie “Identity Thief” opens nationwide in early February, and while we love a good laugh, this flick comes at a cost: the truth.
While the topic deserves the national attention the movie, starring Jason Bateman and Melissa McCarthy, will generate, the devil is in the details. And many of the details in “Identity Thief” are wrong.
Here are five major plot points that do a disservice to an often-misunderstood crime:
Your health information is increasingly stored in an electronic format so providers can easily view, transmit and manipulate it with your best interests in mind. However, as with any digital data, there’s always a possibility that it will fall into the wrong hands where an identity thief or ill-intentioned person can use it against you.
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is a federal law that sets rules and limits on who can look at and receive your health information. Until recently, the law hadn’t received any major updates since the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) originally established it in 1996.
The good news is that in January, HHS released sweeping changes to the rule that not only enhance patient privacy and security protections in an ever-expanding digital age, but also provide individuals new rights to their health information and strengthen the government’s ability to enforce the law.
IDentity Theft 911 caught up with Judi Hofman, co-chairwoman for the American Health Information Management Association’s national privacy and security practice council, to discuss what these changes mean for consumers.
Credit card fraud has been on the rise for years now, but federal authorities recently cracked down on 13 people across the country who are alleged to have stolen hundreds of millions of dollars.
The 13 arrests, made in four states, brought down an alleged crime ring that the U.S. Department of Justice says involved more than 7,000 fraudulent identities, tens of thousands of credit cards, and more than $200 million in fraudulent purchases, according to a report from the FBI. In all, this is one of the largest cases of widespread fraud ever brought by the Justice Department.
A 2011 law passed in Colorado extended significant identity theft protection to many kids in the state’s foster care system, but now one state Senator wants to expand its reach.
Earlier this month, a bill was introduced in the Colorado state senate that would expand the law to cover not only kids in the state’s foster care program, but also those who are in the custody of the state’s Division of Youth Corrections, and mental hospitals, according to a report from the Centennial Citizen. Anecdotally, many who have participated in the system have told stories of having their Social Security number compromised to obtain credit, and typically these incidents take years to discover because in many cases, when kids are affected, they have no reason to suspect there’s outstanding credit in their names until they turn 18 at the earliest.
In the past several years, the number of incidents of identity theft related to consumers’ tax returns has surged, and there seems to be little the Internal Revenue Service can do about it. Now, some experts say that a major reason for this increase in fraud could be the result of the agency’s e-filing option.
The ability to submit one’s taxes online is a major convenience for both Americans across the country who may fret every filing season, as well as the IRS itself, which can handle the hundreds of millions of submissions it receives every year more expediently, according to a report from the Wall Street Journal. But all that ease of use can also pose a major problem for taxpayers because it opens the door for identity thieves to more quickly get in and out of the system when they try to commit fraud.
In 2013, we’ll have to make a choice: Either we acknowledge we’re at war and push back hard, or we keep pretending nothing’s wrong⎯and get snuffed.
In the coming weeks, as we’ve seen every year for the past six, there will be endless reports detailing the digital dangers and identity threats lurking in every corner of our highly networked universe. But allow me to ask a heretical question: To what end?
As more consumers pick up their smartphone and tablet to go holiday shopping, cyber crooks will try just about anything to dupe them out of their hard-earned money.
Forty percent of identity theft victims were targeted while making online purchases in 2011, according to an identity fraud report by Javelin Strategy & Research. Meanwhile identity fraud increased by 13 percent, with more than 11.6 Americans falling prey to the scams.