Changing Identity Theft Tactics

May 14. 2018

Identity theft has been a part of the financial threat landscape for years, dating back to before the digital revolution. The ability to steal money, directly or indirectly, through impersonating someone is a well-worn instrument in the fraud toolbox. Innovations over the past few years have placed a few hurdles in front of cybercriminals, but they still prevail. These thieves simply change tactics rather than give up on their plans.

Staying aware of the current state of identity theft is essential. The fast-moving battle between thieves and security developers necessitates frequent updates to security measures. Virtually every year, a new breakthrough will occur in data protection, followed by a response from fraudsters. The best way to be a careful digital consumer today is to never grow complacent about protecting your personal information and accounts.

Changing of tactics

The 2018 Identity Fraud Study by Javelin, sponsored by Identity Guard, revealed some fresh ways in which thieves are committing identity-based crimes. According to Javelin’s Al Pascual, who recently spoke to CNBC, declines in traditional fraud categories aren’t cause for premature celebration. Thieves may be shifting their attention to other avenues.

One of the most public examples of such a move involved the introduction of credit cards with smart chips. While chip cards make it harder for thieves to use stolen cards in stores, they don’t do much to prevent criminals from exploiting stolen information online. Cybercriminals are always looking for the best way to stay one step ahead of endpoint security and identity verification methods.

Pascual also said hackers have begun to rely heavily on a complex but lucrative attack type called intermediary new-account fraud. In this multi-step process, thieves use stolen personal information to impersonate real people. Instead of logging directly into those individuals’ existing financial accounts and taking their money, they create new, outwardly legitimate accounts in the victims’ names. Then they transfer funds from the real accounts into the false ones.

A new class of risk

The Javelin study gave a concerning update on the sheer number of individuals suffering from these intermediary-based attacks: more than 1.5 million. The 2017 incidence rate of that attack type broke its previous record by 200 percent. Furthermore, more criminals than ever were taking over existing online accounts. Javelin pointed out that the average cost of resolving a stolen profile was $290, along with 16 hours of time.

Even though criminals have stepped up their efforts to snatch up personal information, consumers can increase their chances of safe online conduct by staying current with their security. Being continually aware of whether data is lost or accounts are compromised is simply a responsible practice in an era when criminal tactics are evolving and growing more sophisticated.

In a press release that accompanied the study, Pascual said current attacks on consumers are being helped along by the sheer amount of personal data criminals have access to in this day and age. This information, leaked through several enormous corporate data breaches, has become a starting point for many kinds of fraud. That’s why today’s best practices around cyber risk are predicated on the idea that complex attacks could occur in relatively few steps because of the trove of personal information out there.

For help keeping track of your personal accounts and potential threats to your identity, get Identity Guard. By utilizing artificial intelligence IBM Watson, Identity Guard works to continuously scour billions of data points to discover vulnerability, and alert you when your identity may be at risk.

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