Rise in identity fraud tied to smartphone use
New York: Nearly 12 million Americans were victims of identity theft in 2011, an increase of 13 percent over 2010, according to a report released on Wednesday by the research firm Javelin Strategy & Research.
The rise in the use of smartphones and social media by incautious consumers fueled the increase in identity fraud, and 2011 was a year of several big data breaches too, Javelin said.
With the rise in credit card monitoring and more sophisticated policing by credit card companies, identity thieves are increasingly targeting users of smartphones and social media, where consumers have a tendency to be less cautious, experts say.
"The message is not that people should let their guard down," Javelin founder and President Jim Van Dyke said. "The challenge that we have is that criminals often change faster than everyday consumers or businesses."
The number of people whose information was accessed in a data breach increased by 67 percent in 2011, largely due to some very high-profile thefts, such as the attacks on Sony Corp`s PlayStation network in April.
Someone whose personal information is taken in a data breach is 9.5 times more likely to become a victim of identity fraud, Javelin found.
One heartening finding was that dollar losses by consumers remained stable last year despite the increase in the number of victims. Credit card issuers` policies on fraudulent transactions -- a $50 limit on losses, which is often waived -- and quicker detection has limited out-of-pocket costs to consumers, said Van Dyke.
For the past nine years, Javelin has been analyzing data and survey information about identity fraud, usually defined as the opening of new accounts in the name of a victim.
For every advancement made on the protection side, consumers remain vulnerable due to the resourcefulness of crooks.
"They`re doing more and more crime in order to get the same return," said Mike Urban, who analyzes fraud patterns for Fiserv Inc, a consulting company that helps financial institutions defend against crime and other risks. "It`s pushing the criminals to work even harder."
In 2011, some of the biggest data thefts ever recorded took place. In the attacks on the PlayStation network, hackers obtained the personal information of tens of millions of users and the credit card numbers of some.
Also last year, hackers stole millions of names and email addresses from Epsilon, the marketing division of Alliance Data Systems Corp. That firm sends email marketing information on behalf of major banks, retailers and hotels, among others. Citigroup Inc also reported a large data theft.
About 7 percent of all smartphone users fell victim to identity fraud in 2011, according to Javelin. Smartphone users were about a third more likely to become victims than non-users. Javelin found 62 percent of smartphone users do not use password protection for their home screens; this allows anyone who finds or takes their phones to have access to the contents.
Fiserv`s Urban said downloaded apps are often a problem, too. The lure of a free game, particularly one not vetted through a company-operated site such as Apple Inc`s iTunes, can result in users having programs that collect and distribute their personal information.
Javelin also found that many social media users reveal too much personal information, including their birth dates, where they went to high school, their phone number and other information used to verify identity.
"You don`t leave your money lying on a table," said Urban. "You don`t want to leave your important information out there."
TIPS TO AVOID IDENTITY FRAUD
Here are some tips to avoid becoming an identity fraud victim and mitigating losses:
- Password protect your home and mobile devices. Avoid exposing personal information that can be used by someone else for identity verification.
- Be careful about the apps you download. Only download through a service that monitors the apps, such as iTunes.
- Share information carefully when you are on a public wi-fi network.
- Monitor your credit cards by checking their use online or reading the statements carefully. Quickly report to your credit card issuer if you see any suspicious transactions.
- Take data breach notifications seriously. If your data has been accessed, consider subscribing to a credit-monitoring service, which is often is offered for free for a year by the company that had been breached.
More from India
More from World
More from Sports
More from Entertaiment
- IAF Mirage fighter plane lands on Yamuna Expressway!
- 'Maggi' under regulatory scanner for excess amount of lead, MSG
- Watch: Michelle Obama's 'Gimme Five' fitness video
- When Subramanian Swamy shocked people at a wedding!
- Mumbaikars join hands to save Pakistani teen with rare illness
- Mumbai: Diamond export company denies job to Muslim youth
- Aapke Sitare: Astro prediction for May 21, 2015
- PM Modi speaks at Golden Jubilee celebrations of poet Dinkar’s works
- Mirage 2000 fighter jet landing was part of capability demonstration: IAF
- DNA: IAF Mirage 2000 fighter plane lands successfully on Yamuna expressway
- DNA: Osama documents show 'Indian brother in Madinah' financed al Qaeda
- Coal scam: Naveen Jindal, Madhu Koda and others get bail
- Vadodara: Policemen seen dancing with bar girls
- One year of Modi govt: Arun Jaitley addresses press conference
- ISIS executes Syrian fighter using anti-tank rocket launcher
- CBSE Class 10 Results 2015 to be announced today?
- IAF jet lands on Yamuna expressway
- Check Jharkhand Board jac.nic.in: Class 12th Art Results 2015 declared
- Fawad Khan doesn’t want intimate scenes with Sonam Kapoor?
- Log on to apeamcet.org AP EAMCET Results 2015: Andhra Pradesh EAMCET Marks and AP EAMCET Ranks 2015 declared
- We hire only non-Muslim candidates, diamond export firm tells Muslim youth
- Is MSG in 'Maggi' noodles harmful for you?
- Mumbai firm booked for denying Muslim MBA graduate job on religious grounds, probe ordered
- New IPL rules could see Chennai Super Kings lose MS Dhoni
- Jayalalithaa makes public appearance, meets Governor: As it happened
- `Piku` hits jackpot, does Rs 100 crore business worldwide
- Anurag Kashyap to bid goodbye to India, settle in 'cinema-friendly' France!
- SSLC (tnresults.nic.in) Tenth 10th Results 2015: Tamil Nadu Board Class 10th X Higher Secondary exam results 2015 to be announced shortly
- Geelani's passport application incomplete, cannot be processed: MEA
- IPL 2015, Qualifier 2, Chennai Super Kings vs Royal Challengers Bangalore: Preview