identity theft facts and statistics

No matter which way you look at it, personal information is.. well, personal. It’s a violation of trust and internal security when someone takes advantage of your sensitive information, whether that’s through business or other private means.

In the spirit of National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, below are some statistics, tips and tricks to keep you and your organization from falling victim to identity thieves.

Get The Facts:

Identity theft and fraud complaints have risen greatly in the past five years. According to the FTC’s “Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book,” the top three categories of fraud reports consisted of complaints for imposter scams, debt collection, and identity theft (this includes medical identity theft.) In New York alone, total financial losses in 2018 came in at a whopping $65.7 million.

identity theft, fraud complaints
(1) Percentages are based on the total number of Consumer Sentinel Network reports by calendar year. These figures exclude “Do Not Call” registry complaints.
Source: Federal Trade Commission, Consumer Sentinel Network.

We can expect to see the number of reports and instances of activity go up for 2020, due to the pandemic and number of individuals working from home. With unsecured networks and out-of-date operating systems, many will be left open to social engineering scams.

Speaking of social engineering, I’m sure most of us have gotten a scam phone call before. For example, has the “Department of Homeland Security” ever called demanding you give them your social security number? While phone calls made up about 5.5% of the total fraud reports last year, scam calls like this are just one of the top ways that criminals manage to steal information.

identity theft, fraud complaints in new york
(2) Percentages are based on the total number of relevant 2018 reports from New York consumers. This page excludes reports provided by the New York Attorney General. Consumers can report multiple types of identity theft.
Source: Federal Trade Commission, Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book 2018.

According to the FTC Consumer Data Book, credit card fraud, tax returns fraud, bank and loan fraud are even more common. If you ever find yourself in a situation where you’re stuck and not sure what to do, the FTC offers an identity theft reporting system. This will give you access to an individualized recovery plan that will, hopefully, help you rectify the situation you’re in.

What Else Can You Do?

If you’re searching for ways to keep yourself protected, maintaining security best practices is always a safe bet. Below are some examples of every day things you, and your organization, can do to improve your security.

  • Have secure passwords for all mobile devices. Be aware of any incoming text messages that say “You’ve won!” or “Text ____ to receive a free ____!”
  • Make sure to keep on top of your credit card statements. Checking out your credit report and bank accounts regularly means you’ll notice when something goes awry.
  • Check out your medical insurance plan and records. Some identity thieves will try to get medical treatment via your health insurance. Your records may show a condition you’ve never previously had, or you may be denied service based on inaccurate information.
  • If you possess or work with important intellectual property, you may want to think about changing login credentials on a regular basis. Having an individual gain access to trade secrets through your account or email address is a nightmare waiting to happen.
  • Scan every incoming email for signs of inconsistent information. Phishing emails look like regular emails from your coworker or boss, but they may have spelling inconsistencies or weird e-mail addresses (ex. johndoe@example.com shows up as johndoe@ex-ample.com)

Don’t let yourself fall victim to fraudulent claims and actions. Identity theft is a serious crime that could ruin your organization financially and personally.

If you’re looking to get more information on how to stay cybersafe, contact SkyPort IT today at 585-582-1600 or visit our contact page.
Who’s Got Your Data?

Written by Emily M.

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