ITAC, the Identity Theft Assistance Center, Issues its Outlook for 2013

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ITAC, the Identity Theft Assistance Center, issues its annual outlook for the year ahead to identify trends in fraud and identity theft that affect consumers. Consumers should be aware of new schemes to download information-stealing malware onto their computers and other devices, greater scrutiny of fraud involving senior citizens, and ongoing exploitation of new types of payments.

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ITAC, the Identity Theft Assistance Center, today issued its ITAC Outlook for 2013. Members of the nonprofit ITAC include many of the country’s largest financial services companies. They offer ITAC Victim Assistance® as a free service for their customers.

Based on ITAC member input and current and emerging trends, ITAC anticipates these threats over the next year.

More Malware. Financial services companies report an increase in schemes that trick consumers into opening an email attachment or clicking a link that unexpectedly installs “malware” to their phones and computers. Malware is malicous software that can steal personal information or passwords from the consumer’s phone or computer. Some malware can even conduct unauthorized transactions without the consumer’s knowledge. These schemes often use “social engineering” tactics to trick people into revealing personal information by offering a chance to win money, creating a sense of danger, or using the names of friends or family.

Financial Exploitation of Senior Citizens. Older Americans can be susceptible to financial abuse through a wide variety of fraud schemes including “sweetheart” scams, power of attorney fraud, charity fraud and those involving fraudulent debt relief or foreclosure assistance. Government and business are increasingly focused on fighting financial exploitation of the elderly. Several initiatives were announced this year, including the establishment of an Elder Justice Coordinating Council by the Health and Human Services Department to explore successful strategies for protecting seniors and a partnership between Wells Fargo and the Department of Aging to offer financial education for seniors. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is working to help older Americans understand their financial choices and recently teamed with the Federal Trade Commission in warning older Americans about deceptive advertising.

Following the Money. As consumers make more transactions online and on mobile devices, financial fraud is migrating to these channels. The increasing popularity of pre-paid debit cards is an opportunity for frausters to follow the money. This year, several states and utilty companies warned consumers about pre-paid card scams. Xcel Energy issued a warning to customers in New Mexico and Texas that scammers were targeting Hispanic customers, threatening them to cut off their energy unless they made payment using a prepaid card, according to news reports.

Fraudsters Socialize More. Fraudsters will continue to trawl social networks for personal information. Sharing information that can be used to commit identity theft is a familiar problem. However, as consumers learn to avoid some tricks, fraudsters develop new tactics. These include e-mails or text messages, malicious apps, surveys and free offers.

ITAC offers consumer advice how to identify and avoid fraud at

About ITAC
ITAC, the Identity Theft Assistance Center (, is the national advocate for identity theft victims and a leading voice on identity policy. Millions of consumers have access to the ITAC victim assistance service through our members – the financial services companies who support ITAC and offer it as a free service for their customers. ITAC is dedicated to protecting all consumers through education, research and the criminal prosecution of identity crime.

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Kate Ennis