Examine the Numbers & Learn to Protect Yourself from Fraud
It seems like every year is a bad one for online fraud; for example, the Target breach back in 2013 fundamentally changed how the world responded to data breaches. But 2017 was truly a year of headlines for fraud.
The biggest story of the year was the Equifax hack revealed in September, which exposed the sensitive personal data of 145 million Americans. The impact of that attack will be felt for decades to come, with roughly 1 in 2 US adults now liable to be the victim of synthetic fraud at some point in their lives. There were other important stories for fraud as well, including record instances of account takeover, new phishing tactics, the WannaCry ransomware attack, and much more.
Key Fraud Takeaways of 2017
Figuring out the real impact of all those incidents can be a little hard, but the new Global Fraud & Risk report, released January 22, offers great insights on that point. Some of the study’s key findings during 2017 include:
#1) 84% of Businesses Experienced a Fraud or Cybersecurity Incident
84% of senior business executives, representing more than 500 businesses in a variety of industries, agreed that their business experienced at least some fraud or cybersecurity activity in 2017. That’s an increase over the previous year’s total of 82%.
#2) 23% of Businesses Lost 6% or More of Total Revenue to Fraud
The losses incurred in fraud attacks, as well as the added costs of dealing with fraud, are a burden for every business. Nearly a quarter of businesses surveyed, though, reported that 1 in every 20 dollars in business revenue was lost as a direct result of fraud in 2017.
#3) Information Theft was the Primary Target of Cyber-Security Breaches
Theft of private information accounted for 29% of all cybersecurity attacks. With more private information floating around in the illicit corners of the internet, businesses will experience more synthetic identity fraud, and more fraudulent transactions.
“What Can I Do About Fraud?”
It’s hard to underscore the significance of the fraud and cybersecurity incidents we saw in 2017. Fraud was already on the rise, and now it will keep getting worse at a faster rate.
Your information—and your financial well-being are at risk. You need to be more conscious of the risk factors for fraud and cyber-vulnerabilities than ever before:
- Do not give-out sensitive information—account numbers, SSN, card security codes, date of birth, etc.—to anyone over the phone.
- Do not carry your Social Security card in your wallet or purse. Keep it at home.
- Keep an eye on your payment cards; if you misplace one, call and cancel it immediately.
- If you move, notify every entity that sends you mail regularly. Also, submit a change of address form to the post office.
- Do not write-down account numbers or passwords. Try services like Lastpass
- Be mindful of online phishing tactics by typing-in URLs carefully, and only clicking links that you trust.
- Shred receipts, bank statements, bills…anything which could contain sensitive information.
- Select difficult-to-guess PINS—do not use your birthdate, address, etc.
These are all proactive habits intended to prevent criminals from getting ahold of your information to commit fraud. But of course, none of these behaviors are foolproof. Even consumers who are very cautious and protective of their data and personal information can be victims of criminals, because they’re not the only ones responsible for protecting that data.
Look again at the Equifax incident in September 2017. The credit agencies have personal information regarding just about every American adult, and consumers have no control over how that information is safeguarded. That’s why it’s important to keep an eye on your identity.
Remember: you’re legally entitled to three free credit reports each year, so take advantage of them. If one or multiple reports seem suspicious, or you notice a line of credit you did not open, contact the credit bureau which issued the report immediately.
Likewise, remember to check your bank and credit statements regularly for any suspicious activity. If you spot a transaction you don’t recognize, contact eConsumer Services. We’re here and waiting to help you get to the bottom of it and recover your funds.