Recession to Cause a Rise in Scams, Thievery and Hacking - ITRC and Robert Siciliano Predict 2010 Identity Theft Trends

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The Identity Theft Resource Center® (ITRC) and Robert Siciliano have joined forces to expand the pool of knowledge about identity theft issues. As nationally recognized experts in this crime, they have come up with their Top 10 predictions for what the nation might expect in the area of identity theft in 2010 and beyond.

My prediction for 2010 is that the increase in social networking activity, along with a user’s failure to implement security and privacy settings and protocols, will lead to an increased exposure of not only the user’s personal information but possibly that of their

The Identity Theft Resource Center® (ITRC) and Robert Siciliano have joined forces to expand the pool of knowledge about identity theft issues. As nationally recognized experts in this crime, they have come up with their Top 10 predictions for what the nation might expect in the area of identity theft in 2010 and beyond.

The recession will lead to more scams. “Whenever our nation has faced a difficult time, thieves have found a way to use the problem to their advantage,” explained Robert Siliciano. “In my adult life, I’ve never seen more variations of old scams and the degree of sophistication in newer scams”

Criminals will take advantage of increasing unemployment rates by tricking desperate people searching for job listings. These fake job listings and work-at-home scams will eventually end with the job seeker providing Social Security Numbers (SSNs) to criminals. “If the job description is not one that you would see printed on a business card or you are asked to front money, it’s a scam,” continued Siciliano.

Additionally, there will be an increase in the number of individuals - who have no criminal history - begin to explore the crime of identity theft for financial gain. “For these thieves, it will be about quick money. Once desperate people max out their credit limits and wreck their own credit histories; they will start to use Social Security Numbers that they can easily access,” said Jay Foley, ITRC Executive Director. These new identity thieves will take advantage of low tech methods – stealing credit card numbers, dumpster diving, making phone calls, or phishing for credit card numbers. These techniques may also include placing ads in auctions and Craigslist for phantom products for sale to get either credit card numbers or cash.

Desperation will lead to more child identity theft and “all-in-the-family” cases, as well as the fraudulent use of numbers belonging to close friends, roommates and fellow workers. It has long been documented that a significant percentage of identity theft cases are perpetrated by people close to the victim. "We predict that this number will increase during these tough economic times," Foley continued.

“The ITRC has noted that nearly 10 percent of its case load, for the past six months, involved child identity theft issues,” stated Linda Foley, ITRC Founder. “These cases often involve more varied components of identity theft than ever before,” Foley continued. “It’s as if people have finally realized that a child’s SSN can be used for more than just opening a line of credit.”

Medical identity theft, while not a new crime, will reflect the distress of those who have become unemployed. High COBRA premiums, growing individual medical insurance costs, or the inability to afford insurance or medical care, will cause a spike in this area of identity theft. Even the Social Security Administration has noted an increase in uninsured people using the coverage of a friend, relative or even a stranger to get medical care.

Insider theft in the coming year will increase due to the failure to follow simple security protocols in the workplace. This will create opportunities for thieves to gain access to personal identifying information retained in databases or paper files. Additionally, the lack of computer security measures and the increasing skill levels of hackers will lead to larger and more financially harmful breaches. “It is foolish to think that just because one sophisticated hacker has been arrested, that large, extremely damaging hacking events won’t continue to occur,” said Linda Foley. “These thieves are educating young protégées on high tech methods to access “secured” information and will continue to coordinate malicious attacks from their jail cells.”

More individuals will discover that they have become identity theft victims as they apply for government assistance and/or benefits. Not only will their own SSNs be used, but they may be temporarily denied benefits due to the use of their child’s SSN which has been used fraudulently. This type of identity theft, identified as “Governmental Identity Theft”, may be associated with complications with the IRS, Social Security Administration, Departments of Motor Vehicles, Medicare and Welfare.

The number of cases of criminal identity theft will continue to grow. This type of crime is defined as the use of an individual’s personal information to avoid being tied to their own criminal record. “In the current environment, the effects of criminal identity theft on the victims will be more apparent with the loss of employment, loss of benefits and the increased number of arrests of victims ranging from failure to appear warrants for traffic citations all the way to felony level crimes,” predicts Jay Foley. “Criminals will continue to exploit the weaknesses of the current system and revictimize the individual whose information has been used.”

The meteoric rise in social media use has also created a launch pad for identity thieves. “Social media identity theft happens when someone hacks an account via phishing, creates infected short URLs or creates a page using photos and the victims identifying information” explains Siciliano. “My prediction for 2010 is that the increase in social networking activity, along with a user’s failure to implement security and privacy settings and protocols, will lead to an increased exposure of not only the user’s personal information but possibly that of their “friends”.

Bottom line, there will be an increase in identity theft crimes and the number of victims over the next two years unless significant changes are made in information security. “Our most important asset is our identity. And we are functioning under a completely antiquated system of identification with wide open credit and few safeguards to protect the consumer. When state governments agree with federal agencies on effective identification and industry comes together, not to profit from the problem but to solve it, only then will we prevail,” according to Siciliano.

About Robert Siciliano
CEO of IDTheftSecurity.com, Robert Siciliano is a member of the Bank Fraud & IT Security Report's editorial board, Security consultant to Intelius.com and on the consumer advisory board for McAfee. Additionally, in a partnership to help raise awareness about the growing threat of identity theft and provide tips for consumers to protect themselves, he is nationwide spokesperson for uni-ball in 2009 (uniball-na.com provides for more information). A leader of personal safety and security seminars nationwide, Siciliano has been featured on "The Today Show," "CBS Early Show," CNN, MSNBC, CNBC, FOX News and others. Numerous magazines, print news outlets and wire services have turned to him, as well, for expert commentary on personal security and identity theft. For more information, visit Siciliano's Web site, blog, and YouTube page. Reach him at Robert@IDTheftSecurity.com or (617) 329-1182.

About the ITRC
The Identity Theft Resource Center® (ITRC) is a non-profit organization established to support victims of identity theft in resolving their cases, and to broaden public education and awareness in the understanding of identity theft. It is the on-going mission of the ITRC to assist victims, educate consumers, research identity theft and increase public and corporate awareness about this problem. Visit the ITRC website or call the No-cost Victim Assistance toll-free hotline: 888-400-5530

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