In 2021, 5.7 million fraud reports were received by FTC and Identity Theft was the top fraud category followed by Imposter Scams. In an alarming survey, it has been reported that Americans incurred a loss of $5.8 billion from identity theft in 2021. (Source: https://identitytheft.org/statistics/)
What is Identity Theft & Why has It Emerged as A Big Threat?
Identity Theft or more popularly known as ID Theft is when someone steals the identity of victim and uses it to commit a fraud. This is very commonly linked with financial frauds such as taking credit or loans while there might be other reasons as well. Threat actors may also use stolen identity to hamper victim’s reputation.
There are many types of Identity Thefts:
- Financial Identity Theft is the most common type of identity theft where threat actors use victim’s identity or financial information to buy products or take credit.
- Social Security Theft is when threat actors get access to victim’s Social Security Number and use this information to apply for loans or receive benefits such as disability, free medical care, etc.
- Synthetic Identity Theft is an advanced type of identity theft where the fraudsters combine information from stolen identity with fake information to build a new identity. This identity is then used to commit crimes such as money laundering.
Some other reasons for identity theft include filing fake tax returns, avoiding criminal conviction, etc.
Although identity theft has been a problem since long, but the threat has escalated many folds in recent times. There are many reasons that contribute to the increase in the number of identity theft cases.
- Rise in Cyber Attacks: In earlier days, identity theft was made possible by stealing wallet, credit cards, or physical documents. But with increasing use of internet and digital resources, identity thieves now employ cyber attack techniques to gain access to personal & financial information of the victim. Phishing is one of the most commonly used methods where fraudsters send an email or message to the victim, posing to be a bank or tax official. The email or message is personalized to motivate the victim to click on the malicious link contained in the message. The link then navigates the victim to a spoof website where the victim is asked to provide personal and financial details. These details are sent to the threat actors. The ease of stealing the credentials has contributed to the rise in number of identity theft cases.
- Social Media: Social media has become an alter-universe as more than 4.48 billion people use social media around the globe. It has become an inherent habit for users to share photos and videos from their daily life on social media. While this helps in staying connected with your friends & family, over sharing on social media has become a problem. The fraudsters track and analyze the social media posts of their victim to draw a daily activity map. Social media tags also let the fraudsters know about the victim’s friends, family, place of work, etc. This makes it very handy for them to build a fake identity of the victim and use it.
- Saving Financial Information Online: Online shopping has become the new normal! While it is easy, it also adds to the threat of identity theft. It is common for users to save their credit card details, address, & personal information online to avoid the hassle of filling in the details every time. However, in case the server of online store is hacked, it can lead to the theft of these details.
For businesses, it is important to safeguard their customer and vendor information to prevent financial repercussions in case of data theft.
To know more about identity thefts and how to protect your business from cyberattacks, you can contact Centex Technologies at Killeen (254) 213 - 4740, Dallas (972) 375 - 9654, Atlanta (404) 994 - 5074, and Austin (512) 956 – 5454.