4 Identity Theft Trends To Look Out For In 2017

Here’s a not so fun fact: in 2016, identity theft hit an all time high in the United States. Over 15 million Americans were affected—that’s a bigger number than the population of all but four states. Losses from this topped $16 billion, according to USA Today.

As a business owner, you may be wondering how this affects you. Well, it’s because your customers want to avoid being one of those 15 million, and they’re more likely to shop at places that help them do that.

But in order to be one of those businesses, first you need to know about the changing face of identity theft.

Here are the trends in identity theft you should be aware of

Trend #1: The Internet of Things will give hackers more opportunities

First of all, you may be asking, what is the Internet of Things? Although it sounds fancy, it actually just refers to the increasing number of internet-connected devices, and how they communicate with one another.

For example, you may already have a smart TV. You may be considering getting an internet connected thermostat. The next car you may buy might be internet connected, and your coffee maker might too!

And these won’t just download software updates—they’ll communicate with other smart devices. For example, your fridge might detect that you’re out of milk, and send your phone a push notification.

And while it may seem simple, these little things are actually be exposing people and putting them at risk. According to a study by Hewlett-Packard, 70% of the most commonly used internet of things devices have vulnerabilities. The same study found that the most popular IoT devices have an average of 25 vulnerabilities!

Trend #2: Exploit kits will make identity theft easier

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Exploit kits are essentially bits of code that try and steal personal information. Typically, visitors fall victim to exploit kits because they visit a compromised site, which then redirects them to a new site that hosts the exploit kit.

The kit then scans your browser for weaknesses (like a security hole in Flash, for example) and sees if it can exploit it to download malware that will steal your personal information.

Here is how it works, courtesy of Hewlett-Packard:

(Source)

The kicker is that exploit kits are frequently sold to criminals, and require almost zero technical knowledge to implement. Some of them even come with technical support, just like a legit piece or software!

While fraud kits have been around for over 10 years, they’re poised to grow more and more common—especially as criminals who may have previously relied on physical fraud shift their illegal activities to the internet.

Trend #3: EMV chips will shift credit card fraud online

By now, you’re likely already using a chip reader if you have a retail location. That little chip is called an EMV chip, and it’s designed to help prevent fraud at brick-and-mortar stores—like people using cloned credit cards.

The good news is, it seems to work.

When it was implemented in the United Kingdom (years before the US), counterfeit fraud use declined by over 70% over a 10 year period.

And while that’s positive, it also meant that criminals simply shifted their efforts elsewhere. In fact, in 2015 Reuters found that fraud attempts were up around 33% on transactions that didn’t involve swiping (i.e. mostly online transactions) from the year before.

Trend #4: Seniors will be targeted more

It’s not a secret that America, along with much of the developed world, is aging. Today, just 8.5% of the world’s population is over 65, that percentage is set to double by 2050. While the aging population is going to have a huge impact across all aspects of life, here, we’re concerned that we’re going to see an increase in scams and fraud targeting the elderly.

Older people are less likely to keep up with technological trends and may be unaware of new scams, and they tend to have cash for retirement.

Both of those facts make them prime targets for cyber criminals.

If you search online, there are dozens and dozens of lists showing the most popular scams targeting seniors. The ones that pop up over and over again, however, are frauds involving fake IRS representatives, or fake Medicare representatives, or fake health insurance payments.

The point is, as the population ages, this will all be more common, and we need to guard against it.

Here’s what you can do about it

All the trends we’re seeing around identity theft have an impact on your customers and their mindset, whether you like it or not. We know, a lot of these things are completely out of your control, but they are still creating a climate of fear among consumers.

Unfortunately, fraud is somewhat tricky to get rid of entirely. It’s like whack-a-mole: as soon as people make security improvements, fraudsters move on a choose a new approach.

That’s why we believe the best thing an individual can do to protect themselves is have identity theft insurance.

Identity theft insurance covers people from the costs that can occur when they lose their identity. Even though a bank will probably cover losses in one’s checking account, people can still suffer out-of-pocket losses in restoring their identity.

In fact, in 2014, the Department of Justice found that the average out-of-pocket loss for victims of identity theft was $2895!

Offer your customers Identity Protection

The best and most economical way to protect your customers against this is to offer McAfee SECURE Identity Protection.

It’s a free service that gives your customers $100,000 in coverage for 90 days, any time they make a purchase from your site. This keeps them safe from cash losses and the headache associated with identity theft, and more importantly for you, it reminds them that you’re looking out for them.

Here’s how it works: as soon as a customer makes a purchase on your site, a modal or a slide-up window will appear asking them if they’d like to opt-in to a $100,000 identity theft coverage. If they do, they’ll receive an email confirming their coverage, and they’ll be set for 90 days. The best part? They are not only covered when shopping on your site, they are protected in any event where their identity is compromised.

And once their coverage runs out, to activate it again for another 90 days, all they need to do is make another purchase!

That’s it — no complicated forms for you to fill out, and nothing for your customers to do either. It’s free for you, and free for your customers. Win-win!

To learn more about the service, including how to add it to your site, check out our Identity Protection blog post.