The last part of our Identity Theft Blog Series for National Identity Theft Prevention and Awareness Month.
The 2017 Identity Fraud Study released by Javelin Strategy and Research revealed the rate of identity fraud incidences increased by 16% – a record high since Javelin began tracking identity fraud back in 2003. They found that fraudsters netted two million more victims this year, costing about $16 billion in losses.
What’s your consumer persona?
The study identified and analyzed four consumer personas and determined the following about each segment:
- Offline Consumers have little online presence (social networking or shopping) and are exposed to less fraud risk than digitally connected consumers. However, since this group exhibits a higher level of skepticism of both online and mobile banking, it can these consumers more than 40 days to detect fraud. They tend to incur higher fraud amounts than other fraud victims.
- Social Networkers share their social life on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and other networks, but do very little computer or mobile commerce. Since their personal information is widely available to fraudsters, they have 46% higher risk of account takeover fraud than those who don’t share their information on these social platforms.
- Computer and Mobile Shoppers have an elevated risk of experiencing card fraud. While this customer segment experienced the highest prevalence of fraud of any of the four segments, consumers in this group also tended to catch it very quickly and minimize the impact. 78% of fraud victims in this segment detected fraud within one week of its start.
- Digitally Connected Consumers have frequently shopped online and are known to quickly learn and use newer digital technologies. These consumers also exhibit extensive social network activity, exposing them to greater risk. This social activity increases their risk of fraud by 30%, compared to those who don’t utilize social networks.
What to do if you become an Identity Theft victim
It doesn’t matter what type of consumer you are or into which segment you may fall, all identity theft victims should take the same steps. Here’s a checklist of crucial actions a victim should consider…
Affected accounts or credit lines should be immediately reported to the bank/creditor and then closed. Most credit and ATM cards have zero-liability policies depending on how quickly the fraud activity is reported. You can see a breakdown of liability here.
Request a fraud alert
Contact one of the three major credit bureaus to request a fraud alert, and that bureau will inform the other two. This alert will last with all agencies for 90 days.
Contact the FTC
Call the FTC at 877-438-4338 to file your case and then complete an identity theft affidavit form with the FTC. Once your form has been submitted, you can extend your fraud alert so it remains in effect for 7 years.
Review your credit reports
Your fraud alert will automatically initiate the forwarding to you of a copy of your credit reports from all three agencies. Check your reports for items like new accounts you don’t recognize, inquiries that don’t look familiar, unknown employers, etc. Pull your reports at least once or twice again over the course of the next year.
Send out copies of your Identity Theft Form
Send both creditors and the credit agencies a copy of your identity theft affidavit form. Notifying creditors should help in the effort to stop them from reporting fraudulent information to the credit reporting agencies. Also, informing the credit agencies should help get fraudulent accounts blocked so they won’t appear on your credit report.
Inform the police
Notify your city’s police as well as the city police departments in which the identity theft occurred. There’s a letter from the FTC to police departments that you can give them which outlines the importance of helping victims of identity theft. Ask the police to sign your identity theft affidavit form and write the police report number in the Law Enforcement section.
Consider a credit report freeze
This action prevents the credit reporting agencies from releasing your credit report to new creditors. Locking down your credit information like this helps stop a thief from opening a new account in your name.
A few additional items to check off your list…
Change all account passwords and add a password to those accounts which don’t have one. Contact the Office of the Inspector General to see if your Social Security Number has been used by a criminal. Get a new driver’s license if you find yours was used by a fraudster. Let your utility companies know about the fraud in case the criminal is using your utility bill as proof of residence.
Know your rights
Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), consumers who become victims of identity theft have specific rights. If you do find that your identity has been compromised, be sure to review these rights in order to avoid wasting time and money as you try to get your life, and your identity, back on track.
See how others have worked through having their identity stolen – and how others are striving to protect their identity at myFICO forums.