Top ID Theft Risks for 2013

Medical ID Theft, Mobile-Device Attacks Leading Concerns

By , March 18, 2013.
Top ID Theft Risks for 2013

A growing number of medical and government identity theft cases, as well as upticks in compromised mobile devices, should be getting industry attention, says Eva Velasquez, head of the Identity Theft Resource Center, a California-based not-for-profit consumer services and education organization.

See Also: Rethinking Endpoint Security

"They're [all] still on our radar," she explains during an interview with Information Security Media Group [transcript below].

"More than 25 percent of our calls in 2012 were from victims of some type of government ID theft, meaning that their personal information was used either to secure government benefits, to apply for a tax return or even to apply for a job and work or collect unemployment," Velasquez adds.

With mobile devices, phishing, or smishing, attacks also continue to be a problem, she says. "Both organizations and individuals have a role here," Velasquez explains.

Ongoing education and partnerships will aid in mitigating the risks, and expanding awareness should be a top priority, she says.

"We have not built deep enough or broad enough awareness of what we need to do about [identity theft] and how prevalent it is," Velasquez says. "Consumers [and organizations] are starting to get that this is a big global issue, and I think over the next year we can work more to let them know what it really means."

During this interview, Velasquez reviews those topics, as well as:

  • How organizations, especially financial institutions, have an obligation to assist consumers after records are breached and personally identifiable information is exposed;
  • Why ID theft is a growing, global concern;
  • Partnerships the ITRC is working to develop to enhance ID theft protections.

Before joining the ITRC, Velasquez was vice president of operations for the San Diego Better Business Bureau, where she managed core services of dispute resolution, arbitration and pre-purchase information to the public.

Before the BBB, Velasquez spent 21 years at the San Diego District Attorney's Office, with the last 11 of those years spent investigating and assisting in the prosecution of economic/financial crimes, with a focus on consumer protection issues. Velasquez has more than 500 hours of specialized training in the investigation of economic crimes and served as the chairman of the Consumer Fraud Task Force for 13 years.

ITRC's Mission

TRACY KITTEN: Can you tell us a bit about the ITRC and its mission?

EVA VELASQUEZ: The ITRC's mission statement is to provide best-in-class victim assistance at no charge to consumers throughout the United States. It's a really important piece of information because we never ask consumers for any compensation when they call us for our services. We also want to educate consumers, corporations, government agencies and other organizations on the best practices for fraud and identity theft detection, reduction and mitigation.

KITTEN: How did you come to the ITRC?

VELASQUEZ: I've had the pleasure of working with the ITRC both when I was at the San Diego District Attorney's Office and at the San Diego Better Business Bureau. It was a great advantage for me to see the pioneering work that they've been doing in this arena for many years; and because I was able to witness first-hand the quality and the commitment of the ITRC, it was an easy decision for me to commit to becoming a part of this team.

KITTEN: You've been involved with the ITRC since its inception back in 1999. What can you tell us about the experience that you bring to the ITRC?

VELASQUEZ: When I was at the district attorney's office, my primary focus was consumer protection cases. I investigated white-collar crime and consumer protection and assisted with the prosecution of those cases. Because of my experience working with the government and working in that capacity, it's really allowed me to understand that different government entities have different objectives, and therefore the ITRC needs to partner with them in different ways. Prosecutorial entities focus on getting the bad guy, and while some of them have victim services divisions, some of them don't and it's not a service that they can provide. The ITRC can assist those victims with repairing their lives and getting their identity back. Other government entities are focused primarily on outreach and education, so we can partner with them by providing them with our materials for their use and our expertise.

Top ID Theft Trends for 2013

KITTEN: What would you say are some of the top ID theft trends for 2013?

Follow Jeffrey Roman on Twitter: @gen_sec

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