In an age when all personal information is readily accessible, identity theft has become worryingly common. How can you prevent it from happening to you?
To define the term, identity theft occurs when someone steals your personal information for fraudulent purposes. And anything from your social security number to your bank account pin to your medical billing records can be used to commit a serious crime.
As cases of identity theft have become increasingly prevalent, the odds that you or a friend have been affected are higher than ever.
This trend is nothing new, but in today’s digital era, identity fraud has taken on a new dimension. Our dependence on online sources for shopping and financial management has grown exponentially in recent years, and a new wave of hackers has found ways to take advantage of this flood of cyber information.
That means people today must remain constantly aware of the many varying forms of this devastating crime.
A Case of Mistaken Identity
Recently, 32-year-old Starling Willis figured out how to master the game — well, almost. The Sun Sentinel reported that in July, she was arrested in Florida for her part in a scheme to steal the identities of over 700 women. If convicted, Willis could face up to 22 years in prison.
Reports indicate that Willis, along with her associates Latonia Verdell and Kelli McIntosh, submitted more than 590 false tax returns in order to obtain nearly $1.5 million in refunds. Authorities searched Verdell’s home, where they found additional evidence of identity theft, including driver’s licenses, bank statements, and Social Security cards.
Willis, Verdell, and McIntosh are not the first offenders to get caught in the Sunshine State. In fact, Florida accounts for more identity theft problems than any other state in America, with over 37,000 complaints filed in 2014, according to the Consumer Sentinel Network.
The Pitfalls of Big Data
Unfortunately, stories like these are becoming more and more common. According to Javelin Strategy & Research’s 2014 Identity Fraud Study, cited in Fox Business, “A new identity fraud victim was hit every two seconds in America in 2013, with the number of victims climbing to 13.1 million over the year.”
Unsurprisingly, as more data becomes available to schemers and fraudsters, incidents of theft are on the up and up. These alarming statistics are proof that we need to be much more careful with how we use our personal information.
However, you can limit the risks by identifying suspicious behavior as early as possible. The Federal Trade Commission details tell-tale signs of ID theft in the making. The list includes finding strange charges on your credit report, having legitimate medical claims rejected by your health plan, or being notified by the IRS that more than one tax return was filed in your name.
And while these pointers will help you to detect fraud once it happens, they won’t prevent an attack from happening in the first place. That’s where Integrated Security Services comes in. Our data forensics services will help you to evaluate your personal risk and develop effective strategies to combat fraud — before it happens.
Investigations are handled by our seasoned law enforcement specialists, all of whom have extensive experience in the world of cyber-crime, making Integrated the best line of defense in the modern world of big, internet-driven data.
Don’t let yourself fall victim to fraud. Take the necessary steps to ensure that your information is as safe as possible.