How Technology is Changing Identity Theft

May 23, 2017

From Social media impersonators to phishing attacks via email, and data breaches: There are plenty of opportunities for fraudsters to steal our personal information and carry out credit card fraud or identity theft. The fast pace of changing technology raises a lot of questions about how fraud has evolved through the introduction of smartphones and card-not-present payment models. 

Now consumers have to address their reliance on technology, and how our protection efforts have to evolve as criminal’s progress their attacks.

From then to now

Before the rise of social media, fraudsters relied on a paper trail in order to commit fraud. Now - as more of our information goes digital - individuals looking to commit identity theft can go "dumpster diving" from their laptops. Fraudsters have more tools - both online and off - at their disposal to get your personal information. Email scams continue to be a major threat for consumers and businesses alike: The Anti Phishing Working Group found that more than 400 brands were targeted by these types of scams in the final quarter of 2016 alone.

Health records continue to be a source of personal information that criminals can utilize. As more hospitals transition to digital records, large data breaches at these institutions can raise concerns about identity theft. In addition, breaches can reveal personal information that gives criminals the ability to open new accounts in your name.

Finance writer Bob Sullivan noted the Anthem data breach exposed Social Security Numbers, dates of birth and other identifying information that fraudsters could use. This type of identity theft is particularly vicious, as individuals may not be alerted to the spending done in their name. It's also happening more frequently: According to Javelin Strategy and Research, the number of new account fraud doubled in 2016.

Credit card fraud has also evolved

Fraudsters are adapting to keep up with the times. When retailers and credit card companies adopted EMV cards, criminals used skimming, along with other efforts, to continue to steal information. Card-not-present, or CNP, payment is the latest challenge for thieves. As tech companies unveil faster, easier ways to purchase items like Apple Pay or Samsung Pay, criminals are looking for ways to take advantage of these forms of payment. In addition, fraudsters are also changing how they use stolen credit card information, relying more on online purchasing.

"Criminals are getting much better at committing fraud online," Al Pascual, the research director and head of fraud and security at Javelin Strategy noted to NBC News. "Their skill sets are improving and the tools that they're using are much more sophisticated. They're using things like botnets to complete orders at high speed that can overwhelm a merchant's security defenses."

However, consumers also have more tools to protect against identity theft from completely overtaking their lives. Along with monitoring their credit cards, consumers have opted-in to fraud alerts from credit card companies. Individuals can receive a call, text or email when their card is used. As a result, 4 in 10 Americans have had their credit card company reach out about a recent purchase.

There is so much data available about us on the web. As a result, it's important to think proactively about the best way to keep your personal information private. Identity Guard offers the full package of credit monitoring and identity theft protection to help you help yourself against identity theft. No matter where you are in

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