A report from the Bureau of Justice Statistics found that an increasing number of consumers receive information about potential data breaches from their financial institutions or debt collectors. Forty-five percent of identity theft victims said they learned about the incident from their financial institution, while only 18 percent noticed the fraudulent charges on their own.
One would think that this would make consumers more vigilant. However, despite the fact that data breaches and other incidents of identity theft have risen to new levels in recent years, consumer surveys have found that fewer people are concerned about their risks.
This is troubling. Identity theft experts know that this is a tough time of year to stay safe from hackers and thieves because consumers tend to spend more money around the holidays, increasing the chances that some of their financial information may be compromised.
Even during quieter times of year, the threat never really goes away. The smallest purchase can give a thief the opportunity to compromise your financial information even something as simple as pumping gas.
Anti-ID theft measures appear to fail at the pump
A crude, yet effective, method of credit card fraud and ID theft is known as “card skimming.” Thieves will tamper with card readers and install devices that can transmit card information to them with every swipe. Since gas stations are typically out in the open and have card readers that are easy to access, they are prime targets.
Recently, some gas stations have implemented security stickers that will help alert customers if a card reader at a fuel pump has been tampered with. Unfortunately, this move has not been as effective as many hoped.
The stickers are placed on card readers, and will read “Void Open” if broken. NBC Los Angeles reports that customers who notice this are supposed to report it to gas station employees. Apparently, few do. Even worse, many employees seem unaware of how the stickers are supposed to work.
“When I went in to go tell the person who was working, I saw other stickers had been ripped off or said ‘Void’ on them as well,” one local resident told the news source. “I told him and he said, ‘I don’t know what you’re talking about.'”
It isn’t particularly hard for thieves to get their hands on these stickers, either. NBC Los Angeles found that a roll of 500 could easily be purchased online for $69, making it easy for any thief to hide their tracks.
Despite their best intentions, the fact is that many businesses are far behind when it comes to protecting their costumers from identity theft. Those individuals would be better of taking proactive measures to monitor their credit and identities on their own.
If you have concerns about identity theft, be sure to invest in a credit monitoring service, which can notify you of certain activities that may indicate fraud. This can give you much-needed peace of mind, knowing that you are taking important steps in guarding your identity from the myriad of threats out there.