Identity Theft has been a widespread problem for years, but advances in technology are only allowing criminals to move faster and use more complex tactics. FTSI recently hosted Special Agent Bill Murdoch, a security expert with the FBI in charge of combating fraud and theft, who shared his knowledge with FIs in attendance.
“1 in 4 People Will Be Victims of Identity Theft”
Agent Murdoch said that retailers have experienced as much as a 70% fraud reduction with the implementation of EMV chips, but warned that criminals will always find ways to beat new defenses. One of the best defenses is being aware of common scams such as:
- Lottery Scams – Victims are told they have won money and only need to pay an “administrative fee” to claim it. Criminals keep the fee and never pay the winnings.
- Fake Checks – Criminals send real looking checks and keep the “admin fee” it costs to cash them.
- Scare Tactics – Criminals pose as law enforcement or the IRS and tell the victims they have been found guilty or that a relative is being held in jail until they pay a fine
- Romance – (“Catfishing”) Criminals develop an online relationship with the victim, plan to meet, but then “fall on hard times” and claim they need money in order to meet. They then take the money and disappear.
- Surveys – Criminals call victims posing as customer survey researchers to get victims’ information.
- Change of Address – Criminals change a victim’s address to collect their mail and personal info.
Agent Murdoch also offered some every day tips to protect your identity such as:
- Securing your wifi and being wary of criminals hacking
you when you use free wifi in places like cafes
- Getting a mailbox with a lock
- Watching the person who swipes your credit card to
make sure they don’t swipe it through another device
to steal your information
- Putting a “freeze” on your credit if you are not planning
on opening an account for a while to prevent
someone else opening an account in your name
- Listing only your first name and phone number on luggage tags when traveling
- Use ATMs in airports when traveling in foreign countries as they are more secure
- Don’t walk and talk on your cell phone or show off objects of value in foreign countries
Agent Murdoch also encouraged attendees to protect themselves by monitoring their credit and bank statements daily and to use sites like www.ic3.gov to see alerts about current scams and to report them if you are a victim.