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The Resource Center Identity Theft & Protection The Resource Center | article

3 Major Identity Fraud Trends In The Past Year

We've broken down three important trends of 2016 and how they affect your personal security.

Approaching the halfway point of 2016, it seems like an appropriate time to reflect on some of the trends in identity fraud – both negative and positive – that have appeared in the past year. Here, we break down the three most important ones and how they can affect your personal security going forward:

Privacy is more of a focus than security

At the end of 2015, the Identity Theft Resource Center predicted that discussions of privacy would take the spotlight over those of security. So far, that foresight has been fairly true. Following an FBI investigation of a terrorist’s iPhone, both Apple and Microsoft have taken stands against the government in defense of consumer privacy. Because of this heated debate, there is now a national discussion on how much that right should be protected – especially when national security is on the line.

With so much data-driven and connected technology, there is more available information about individuals than ever. For that reason, the idea of “privacy” is becoming even more difficult to get a grip on. However, the year has seen strides in determining just what it means, and moving forward, we should see further progress in defining its boundaries.

The rise of medical identity theft

The past year has been fraught with data breaches, but no industry has suffered more than health care. With limited experience in data-rich technology and a wealth of valuable personal information in their systems, health care providers have been a prime target for hackers. This has raised some serious concerns for consumer vulnerability to medical identity theft, which can impact far more of a victim’s life than other types of fraud.

This rise is not unexpected, according to the Fifth Annual Study on Medical Identity Theft. The study, conducted by the Medical Identity Fraud Alliance, found that incidents of medical ID theft have nearly doubled in five years. Some of the consequences of this growth, as the study found, include health risks like misdiagnosis and delayed or improper care.

Moving forward, we should hopefully see health care providers becoming more proactive about their security efforts. For now, consumers should be vigilant and look out for the signs of medical fraud. As listed by the Federal Trade Commission, these include getting billed for treatments you didn’t receive, seeing mistakes on your medical records and being notified of debts or benefit limits that don’t match your medical care.

Alternative payment methods

In spite of some of the negative developments, the past year has also brought certain innovations to help consumers protect themselves against threats. One such introduction was chip-and-PIN, or EMV, cards. Though they’ve existed for quite some time across the pond, they only recently made a splash in the U.S.

Consumers also have the option to use mobile payment services, like the Apple Pay application that comes with new iPhone models. Similar to chip-and-PIN cards, these applications also generate a unique number for each transaction. Additionally, this data is encrypted, which means that not even a cashier has access to it.

Because we don’t necessarily know what the following years will bring us in terms of identity fraud trends, it’s important to take the steps now to secure your information. This can include investing in a monitoring service like Identity Guard, which can keep an eye on your credit files and alert you to certain activity that may indicate fraud.