Top ID Theft Risks of 2009

Check Fraud, Credit Card Scams Top the List The Identity Theft Resource Center in San Diego has made some dire predictions for businesses and consumers to ponder for next year.

Here's a list of some of the things that ITRC sees as causing the most problems in the identity theft arena. Some are already hitting financial institutions and their customers.

Real Estate-based scams: Those in the financial services industry already know how to stop these -Apply the Know Your Customer rule. But there are many different scams that criminals use to draw on the equity of unsuspecting home owners. Criminals are plying their offers on the Internet, billboard advertising and even through local groups and word of mouth.

Some current scams include: refinancing current loans, adding in unforecasted payments or property to increase the cost of the loan. A homeowner could be ensnared into a second mortgage without knowing about it. Scammers are also picking on those homeowners who are in trouble or behind in payments. The best advice to tell your customers is to talk with you, their bank or mortgage company before getting involved with an unknown company.

Credit Card scams: Because of the recession and tightened credit, criminals may make offers to strapped consumers who aren't able to qualify for credit. Tell your customers to avoid applying for cards that offer a line of credit despite a poor credit score or a lack of a Social Security number. Also tell your customers to do an about face when presented with consolidation of credit card debt or a negotiator to get lower interest rates.

Job scams: These will be on the rise, says the ITRC, as more people look to bolster their income in the poor economy. One example the ITRC says to watch for is an ad offering a job as an account's receivable clerk for a company outside of the U.S. Consumers have also been inundated with "phishing" emails that try to scam personal information from them during the mergers and failures of institutions and retailers. Phishers have also sent fake emails purporting to be from the IRS with tax refund offers.

Targeted attacks: The ITRC and law enforcement and financial institutions are anticipating an increase in this sophisticated method professional crime groups go about "mining" information from consumers and businesses. They accomplish this through "skimming" credit cards and debit cards of consumers at retailers and ATM machines.

Check Fraud: Financial institutions will need to pay attention here. As new lines of credit become harder to obtain, identity thieves will turn back to check fraud as a way to commit fraud. This can range from stolen checks to synthetic checks. Synthetic checks will usually have something that links them to a real consumer, typically the name or address. The checks may be for a closed account, an account that never existed or with a bank the consumer never used.

Breaches: As higher education, retailers, and companies that collect sensitive personal information on consumers cut budgets in the poor economy, some are cutting IT security staff. ITRC predicts that targeted attacks of these kinds of entities may increase as hackers come up with better techniques to breach networks and it will be easier if few security measures and monitors are present.

Other ID Theft Crimes: Watch for an increase of fake Social Security numbers by people who don't have an SSN or can't use their own. ITRC recognizes that identity theft isn't just about the financial crime, it can reach into medical identity theft and use of a stolen identity to commit crimes.

To hear more about ITRC's predictions for 2009:

The New Face of ID Theft - Interview with Linda Foley, Founder of the Identity Theft Resource Center

About the Author

Linda McGlasson

Linda McGlasson

Managing Editor

Linda McGlasson is a seasoned writer and editor with 20 years of experience in writing for corporations, business publications and newspapers. She has worked in the Financial Services industry for more than 12 years. Most recently Linda headed information security awareness and training and the Computer Incident Response Team for Securities Industry Automation Corporation (SIAC), a subsidiary of the NYSE Group (NYX). As part of her role she developed infosec policy, developed new awareness testing and led the company's incident response team. In the last two years she's been involved with the Financial Services Information Sharing Analysis Center (FS-ISAC), editing its quarterly member newsletter and identifying speakers for member meetings.

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