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What do you get when you bring together a roundtable of experts who’ve got their finger on the pulse of fraud trends in the U.S.?

A room full of people empowered to protect their identities—and spread the word among friends and colleagues.

Herb Weisbaum, The Consumerman on NBCnews.com, led the “Fast Forward: 2013 Fraud Trends” panel at the Speakers included Eva Velasquez, CEO of the Identity Theft Resource Center; Steve Reger, director of consumer solutions and fraud victim assistance at TransUnion; Alex Tsetsenekos, vice president and general manager for the home vertical at LexisNexis; and Bob Sullivan, a journalist and author of Gotcha Capitalism and Stop Getting Ripped Off.

Here are a but a few trends highlighted:

•    The use of big data and analytics to identify fraud in property/casualty insurance. “We’re migrating away from the days of desk underwriting,” said Tsetsenekos of LexisNexis. “Many of our customers are spending time looking to identify individuals that may be committing fraud.” The intent is to identify the good customers and the fraudsters to take the cost out of the system, he explained.

•    Synthetic identity theft isn’t going away. This happens when identity thieves create a new, fraudulent identity from a piece of stolen personally identifiable information (PII) that is mixed and matched with other information. “The biggest trend from where I’m coming from,” said Reger of TransUnion, “is that we’re protecting our own identities. But we can’t just protect portions of them that are used for fraud.” Someone may use a person’s Social Security number but not their name or birth date, making it difficult to detect identity theft right away.

•    Consumers must be more proactive. Most consumers discover they’re identity theft victims through a triggering event—when they’re applying for a student or car loan, home mortgage—and not when they’re proactively checking their credit report, said Velasquez of ITRC.

•    Medical identity theft is a growing concern. When Velasquez worked in a district attorney’s office, she said she had a difficult time trying to convince people that financial crimes were a serious issue because they weren’t considered as traumatic as violent crimes. Medical identity theft “is a financial crime that has violent crime consequences,” she said. “People can lose significant parts of their health.”

The key takeaway: Fraudsters and hackers are getting better at what they do, and so should we. “We are so far behind what criminals are innovating,” Sullivan said.

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