Be proactive, not reactive!
It’s that time of the year again: this week is National Protect Your Identity Week (PYIW). Long gone are the days where we could protect our private lives and finances with picket fences, deadbolts, and ferocious guard dogs. Nowadays, it’s easier than ever to fall victim to the common thief. As have we all enjoyed the benefits of streamlined web-based financial transactions, so too have criminals been simultaneously enjoying the relative ease of wrongdoing from the comfort of their laptop computers.
Identity fraud is defined as the unauthorized use of another person’s personal information to achieve illicit financial gain. Javelin Research estimates that 8.1 million Americans were victims of identity fraud in 2010. There’s good news and bad news here. The good news is that the number represents a 28% drop in the amount of total victims as compared to the year before. The bad news on the other hand is that the total out of pocket costs still went up. The average consumer out-of-pocket cost due to identity fraud increased 63 percent from $387 in 2009 to $631 per incident in 2010. Consumer fraud costs include the payment by the victim towards paying off fees or expenses (or paying legal fees) to resolve fraudulent claims or debts.
James Van Dyke, president of Javelin, attributed the statistical improvement to “increased security measures and some significant law enforcement successes. However, the rise in out-of-pocket costs carries a warning. Consumers cannot put their finances on autopilot or ignore important safeguards. Simple safeguards may dramatically reduce fraud risk, such as frequently monitoring banking, credit and other financial activities, securing computers and paper records, and activating electronic alerts to help prevent fraud and address the situation quickly when it occurs.”
The message is simple: the financial institutions have safeguards in place, but that shouldn’t lead you to a false sense of security. The tools and safeguards only work if you, the consumer, actually use them proactively. Whether you’re guarding the Mona Lisa or your finances, even the best protection systems may be penetrable. So the best thing you can do is keep your eye on the ball so you become aware of a possible identity breach as soon as possible after it happens—and you can stop the snowballing effect before it spirals out of control and costs you even more in the long run.
Clickbooth is committed to ensuring the privacy of you and your clients’ personal information. In the spirit of PYIW, stay tuned for more news and tips from Clicky the rest of this week on how to protect your personal information from identity theft.