New trends in identity theft

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Identity theft is America’s fastest-growing crime. More than 70 million identities will be lost this year alone with as many as 3 million social security numbers being stolen. Simple credit monitoring is not enough – only 15% of identity theft is credit-related (85% of identity fraud happens “outside” the credit system).

As more and more of our financial transactions take place online, our laptops and desktops are loaded with incredibly sensitive information – social security numbers, tax filings, banking passwords, credit card numbers, medical records and more. This manifests in an alarming trend, discovered by IdentityTruth in 2009, reported cases of stolen computers have more than doubled over 2008.

Hacking is up: Think that cryptic passwords and anti-virus software keep you safe? Think again. Today’s identity thieves use software that monitors keystrokes and sends passwords to remote locations, and even devices that allow for remotely copying an individual’s desktop within a certain range.

Phishing is down: There is a reason why you haven’t heard from the Prince of Namibia in a while – IdentityTruth’s research points to a significant decrease in phishing emails as thieves are finding new, more effective ways to perpetrate fraud.

Social Networking increases risk: Consumers regularly share personal information – including date of birth, home addresses, vacation dates and typical password retrieval prompts like “pet’s name” and “city of birth”- on social networking sites, and identity thieves are taking notice.

Returning to the classics: IdentityTruth’s data points to a 100% increase in snail-mail based fraud – a special warning for consumers who may be unassuming of low-tech tactics. Diverting a person’s mail is a relatively easy way to acquire valuable personal information.

“Financial transactions are no longer limited to the personal desktop computer, taking security beyond the desktop and into the physical world. In addition, company employees are conducting personal financial transactions at their workplace, and relying on company firewalls and protection to keep their data safe,” said Steven Domenikos, CEO of IdentityTruth. “Identity thieves are continuously devising new schemes, and deploying new technologies to perpetrate their crimes in every corner of where we work, play and live.”