Although Identity Theft Awareness Week is behind us, consumers and businesses alike should remain vigilant in continuing to protect themselves as well as learn about identity recovery efforts. As individuals continue to migrate to “all things digital”, there is an alarming amount of data being overshared and uploaded to the internet that is increasingly being exposed.
In fact, thousands of servers sitting across the globe are responsible for housing variant pieces of personal identification information (PII) that if not secured properly, is left up for grabs to those with nefarious intentions. Furthermore, the side effects of a global pandemic reveal a staggering increase in breached data, namely mobile and Internet of Things (IoT) devices and remote work environments. Identity theft statistics have practically encompassed the entire cyber crime sphere – due to the simple fact that it is much easier to perpetrate and can be lucrative. Global damages resulting from cyber crime are predicted to cost $6 trillion annually by the end of 2021, with cybercriminals reportedly generating approximately $1.5 trillion in revenues.
Social engineering like phishing or vishing attacks is reportedly behind 98% of targeted attacks and responsible for 93% of data breaches – making it the most popular form of cyber crime.
Whether it is perpetrated by a phone call or email campaign, the vast types of data easily attainable via this method of attack has proven to be a “one-stop shop” for obtaining social security numbers, company identifiers, passwords, IDs, credit card numbers, passport info, etc. Not only are individuals falling victim to such crimes, small-midsize businesses suffer a pretty penny and face as many as 16,856 cyber-attacks per year.
Fraud losses spiked 13% in just one year – between 2019 and 2020 – hitting consumers with $3.5 billion in losses related to recovery efforts.
Alas, not all is doom and gloom – although identity theft-related crimes continue to escalate, there are existing fraud mitigation and recovery efforts in place to help get you back on your feet. However, victims should also be wary of “recovery fraud” programs that exploit individuals facing their newfound financial hardship. Bad actors posing as government officials promising to “get your money back ASAP” and “restoring credit for a small fee” lead victims right into another fraud scheme that adds salt to the wound.
Remember, if a victim is eligible for restitution, they will most likely be notified via mail. In this case, the recipient should take the following measures:
- Independently verify the validity of the information by directly contacting the agency or court that sent the correspondence.
- Avoid solely relying on the contact information (phone number/email/websites) listed in the correspondence as they could be elements of a fraud scheme.
- Do your due diligence by directly researching and confirming the contact information via multiple methods:
- Visit their website
- Look up the phone number, call it and ensure you and reach a representative.
- Being proactive during this process will save consumers and businesses alike the headache of falling prey to a secondary fraud scheme.
Although malicious threat actors are consistently active within the data theft realm, consumers must take the initiative in detecting fraud in order to prevent it from happening to them and paying it forward by raising awareness, if possible. Secure your private information, share the knowledge and importance of protecting your data. Identity theft isn’t going away anytime soon and it’s up to society to combat it by steadfastly staying vigilant and doing our due diligence. This is the mission of Constella Intelligence – Let’s defeat digital risk together.
Listen to this podcast to learn more about how we can help protect your identity from malicious actors.