What consumers need to know about identity theft

The threat from ransomware is so frightening and immediate, given the extensive coverage of last week’s attack, that it is easy to forget about another technological threat — identity theft. Identity theft occurs when a criminal hacks into your computer to steal personal data, or simply finds something useful in your mailbox, and uses it to create credit accounts in your name. While ransomware may put your photographs, correspondence, and everything on your computer hard drive at risk, identity theft can bury you with debts that aren’t yours, ruining your credit and taking years to straighten out. A new survey by Experian, one of the three credit bureaus, has found wide gaps in consumers’ awareness of the identity theft threat, and perhaps because of that, it finds gaps in consumers’ protective measures. Too complicated? Most consumers in the survey — 84% — admitted they are concerned about the security of their Read More

Identity theft, fraud cost consumers more than $16 billion

It’s time to keep an eagle eye on your finances. Some 15.4 million consumers were victims of identity theft or fraud last year, according to a new report from Javelin Strategy & Research. That’s up 16 percent from 2015, and the highest figure recorded since the firm began tracking fraud instances in 2004. “All of the underlying types of fraud we measure are up,” said Al Pascual, a senior vice president and research director for Javelin. Card-not-present fraud — transactions made online or via phone where the cardholder does not need to present the physical card to complete the purchase — jumped the most, increasing 40 percent compared to 2015. Account takeover fraud — where thieves used stolen login information to access a consumer’s accounts — rose 31 percent, and instances where fraudsters opened new accounts in a consumer’s name were up 20 percent. In all, thieves stole $16 billion, Read More