What Do Sharks and Identity Thieves Have in Common?

July 24, 2017

Every year, TV enthusiasts will hunker down for one week to watch Shark Week on The Discovery Channel. The week-long shark-a-thon started in 1988 and made viewers fall in love with these predators of the deep. While watching the great whites swerve through the water, it can be hard to realize that they are much like identity thieves - circling their prey, waiting for a moment to strike.

Lucky for swimmers, the likelihood of being attacked by a shark is 1 in 11.5 million. However, more than 15 million Americans found themselves victims of identity theft in 2016, according to Javelin Strategy & Research. By a rough estimate, you’re more likely to become a victim of identity theft than becoming the dinner or a great white shark.  Here are few tips to stay safe this summer, from the predator of the deep and identity predators who lurk online.

Stay vigilant

According to a CNN article, humans may unintentionally entice sharks by exhibiting different behaviors. Some swimmers are wary of wearing black body suits or riding boogie boards further out in the water, as it can make them look like seals to great whites.

"A lot of shark attacks are cases of mistaken identity," observed Richard Peirce, a shark expert, told CNN, "due to reduced visibility and identification ability on the behalf of the shark."

There are ways for consumers to also unintentionally invite identity thieves. Newer methods of payments, such as card-not-present (CNP) forms could increase the risk of becoming a victim of identity theft, as it doesn't require additional pieces of login information like a PIN number. According to ACI Worldwide, CNP fraud is an increasing threat, expected to grow by 43 percent. Importantly, criminals don't need to have access to physical cards to commit these crimes.

Don't wander too far

When out for a swim, going too far out from shore can increase the risk of a shark attack, The Florida Museum of Natural History noted, because it can isolate swimmers from help should an attack occur. This is also true of potential encounters with identity thieves - particularly those engaging in imposter scams like sweetheart scams.

Consumer Reports highlighted that these crimes target older and lonely individuals by claiming to be an ideal partner. The FBI reported that individuals had lost $82 million to these types of scams. When targeting older individuals, imposters will insist that they are family members in need of money. No matter how old you are, always verify the receiving party before sending money, especially if you’re sending it internationally.

Don't draw attention

The Florida Museum also noted that wearing jewelry can draw attention to swimmers. The flashing in the water can make sharks think they're staring at fish scales - and can lead to problems for swimmers. Individuals can follow this same advice when posting on social media: The key is to not draw attention and lead criminals to you.

If you’re traveling on vacation, try not to alert potential criminals as to where you're going or how long you'll be gone. In addition, posting personal information that can be used to apply for a credit card - like hometown or date of birth - can be bad news. Feel free to let friends and family know about the trip on social media once you've safely returned. Pictures posted ater are definitely welcome!

Even when taking proactive steps to protect personal information, it's not possible to account for everything. That's why a second set of eyes can make a difference - and that's how Identity Guard can help. Learn more about identity Guard services and products to find the right identity protection for you.

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