Identity Theft: Escaping the Bubble (part 1)
How much information does someone really need to know in order to impersonate you to a 3rd-party? Your name? Birth date? Address? Armed with easily found information such as this, and maybe a couple other key pieces of information such as the school you went to, your dogs name or your mothers maiden name, an individual might be able to access your existing accounts, make withdrawals or establish new loans or credit in your name
Identity theft is a type of fraud which involves stealing money or gaining other benefits by pretending to be someone else, it also occurs when someone uses another's personally identifying information, like their name, identifying number, or credit card number, without their permission, to commit fraud or other crimes.
The victim of identity theft (here meaning the person whose identity has been assumed by the identity thief) can suffer adverse consequences if they are held responsible for the perpetrator's actions. Identity theft can occur in many ways—from somebody using your credit/debit card details illegally to make purchases to having your entire identity assumed by another person to open bank accounts, take out loans and conducting illegal business under your name.
"Determining the link between data breaches and identity theft is challenging, primarily because identity theft victims often do not know how their personal information was obtained," and identity theft is not always detectable by the individual victims, according to a report done for the FTC
"According to the Federal Trade Commission (US), identity theft was the number one fraud complaint during calendar year 2008. And limiting your use of your personal computer may not help much: a study released by Javelin Strategy and Research reported that in 2009 most identity thefts were taking place offline, not online — just the opposite of what many people might think. One other troubling finding: the study found that 43 percent of all identity thefts are committed by someone the victim knows".
Hold Security, an American firm discovered sometimes this year that a Russian Crime ring has amassed the largest known collection of stolen internet credentials, including 1.2 billion username and password combinations and more than 500 million email addresses.
Now to some statistics:
Identity theft could be costing South Africa more than R1-billion every year, according to a major credit bureau and a national insurance organization. The South Africa Fraud Prevention Service, a non-profit organization that works to combat fraud, identity theft and financial crime, says it is getting up to 25 complaints daily
- Total Financial loss attributed to identity theft and identity fraud in Canada in 2013 was $16,622,825.58 according to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Center
Javelin Strategy & Research 2014 Identity Fraud Report:
- Number of Identity Theft Victims: 13.1 Million in 2013 (Second- Highest Level on Record)
- Fraud Losses: $18 Billion in 2013
FTC Consumer Sentinel Complaint Data, 2013
- Identity Theft Highest Complaint Category (290,056 Complaints)
CIFAS Fraudscape Report (2014)
- Identity-Related Crimes (E.g., Identity Fraud, Facility Takeover Fraud) accounted for More Than 60 Percent of Confirmed Fraud in 2013
- More Than 129,500 Victims of Identity-Related Crimes Recorded During 2013
- 108,554 Identity Fraud (123,589 in 2012)
National Fraud Authority, Annual Fraud Indicator (2013):
December 2012 Survey of UK Adults Online:
- 8.8 percent had been an identity fraud victim in the previous 12 months – Those individuals who actually lost money lost on average £1,203 each
- Equivalent to £3.3billion lost each year by individuals
- 27 percent of UK adult population surveyed had been a victim of identity fraud at some point in time
It is estimated that identity fraud costs the UK £1.7bn a year and is the fastest growing white-collar crime. According to the BBC Money Program it is increasing at 500% year on year.
Australia Bureau of Statistics, Personal Fraud, 2010-2011 (2012)
- 19.8 percent of those surveyed experienced two or more incidents in the five years prior to interview in 2010-11
- 19.9 percent victims of identity theft indicated having their personal information used for applications for a loan or to gain credit in the five years prior to interview in 2010-11
Most common way that personal information was used:
- 26.9 percent of all identity-theft victims in 5 years prior to interview had
Incurred financial losses as a result of the incident(s):
- 24.1 percent losing AU$10,000or less, 2.8 percent losing more than AU $10,000
a survey by Microsoft found damages identity theft to have costed individuals about Rs 7,500 on an average. According to Microsoft's third annual Computing Safer Index (MCSI), 20 per cent of respondents from India said they had fallen prey to phishing attacks.
Multiple Countries: Microsoft Computing Safety Index (2014)
• Microsoft Computing Safety Index Survey: Polled consumers in 20 countries and regions around the world, March –May 2013
Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Egypt, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States
- 15 percent said that they had been a victim of phishing, losing average of $158
- 13 percent said their professional reputation had been compromised, costing on average $535 to repair
- 9 percent said they had suffered identity theft, at average cost of $218
How does Identity Theft Work?
Identity theft works in a range of ways; from crude methods to well organized scams.
According to Cyber Crime India, there are two broad types of Identity Theft:
Identity Takeover: Criminal uses the information, which he has stolen in order to have access of victim's existing accounts.
True Name Theft: Criminal uses the personal information of the victim to open new accounts, new credit cards and totally takes over the identity of the victim.
Many of us have a wealth of personal information readily available; cards in our wallet, mail, public records, information saved in our computers and information posted on social networking sites.
Identity theft can happen easily and quickly. By leaving your personal information readily available, scammers will have easy access to this information. For example, scammers will pay people to rummage through rubbish tips and steal letters to collect personal information.
However, despite your best efforts, a determined scammer can also create elaborate and cunning plans to trick you into providing your personal details. For example:
By sending an email that looks like it comes from your bank, financial institution or telecommunications provider. Known as phishing scams, these emails are all about tricking you into handing over your personal and banking details to scammers. Most work by including special links in the email to take you to a combination of genuine and spoofed websites.
Phony fraud alerts are similar to phishing scams where scammers trick you into handing over your personal details. A common fraud alert involves the scammer pretending to be from your bank informing you that your credit card or account has been cancelled because of suspicious criminal activity (various excuses are used). They will then trick you to provide account details to ‘confirm’ your identity.
Bogus job opportunities are usually posted on job websites. The scammer may use or sell your personal information provided in the job application.
How do you prevent Identity theft? ……………………………….. To be continued