Data is everywhere. Why is identity theft growing so fast?

In early September, I had an opportunity to attend a local event organized by the International Association of Financial Crimes Investigators (IAFCI), a non-profit international organization that serves the financial payment industry and the public by providing information about financial fraud, fraud investigation and fraud prevention methods. With thousands of scams taking place every day, the event discussed how ID fraud is affecting consumers in different ways. More importantly, I learned some simple ways FIs can be vigilant and stay educated to protect your organizations and keep consumers’ identities safe.

To get a sense of the fraud landscape, let’s take a look at some numbers.

In 2014, according to a report released by Javelin Strategy and Research, 12.7 million U.S. consumers were victims of ID fraud losing a total of $16 billion. The report also notes that this number represents a three percent drop in the number of victims from last year. Even with this decrease, the number still remains very high.

So, how is fraud happening and how can we protect ourselves?

Many consumers rely on credit monitoring to notify them of possible fraud. However, credit monitoring may not be effective as it can take a year or more for victims to discover identity theft. By the time the crime is discovered, fraudsters could have applied for a loan, accepted a job, and filed tax returns all on the victim’s behalf. Credit monitoring services can help track the issues, but they don’t all work the same. Consumers should be sure they are notified in minutes or hours, and not in weeks or months.

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