It has been awhile since we’ve posted about identity theft.
The problem hasn’t gone away, so it’s time for a booster shot.
According to the Javelin Strategy 2015 Identity Fraud report, thieves stole $16 billion from 12.7 million U.S. consumers in 2014.
With a new identity fraud victim every two seconds, there is still significant risk to consumers.
The FTC reports that Americans age 20-29 make up 15% of identity theft complaints.
Javelin agrees that millennials are particularly ripe targets for identity thieves.
Experts cite a few reasons:
Feeling of invincibility … “I’m so tech savvy that there’s no way that I get hacked”
It’s “the man’s” problem … “Hey, if my credit card gets nailed, it’s on the credit card companyto make things right”
No secrets … many millennials exhibit wanton disregard for privacy. They post and share all tidbits about their lives … even details that broadcast the answers to their security challenge questions.
On the phone … security experts repeated warm that cell phones are notoriously easy targets … apps can maliciously run unnoticed in the background … “secretly siphoning their data or installing a virus”.
To that point, my go-to-guy on security issues says:
I overheard a couple Millennials talking about their new smart phone apps that hook up all their financial accounts.
Obviously, they were unaware of the major security holes these phone apps have.
Everything from hardware to encryption is pretty flimsy in the cell phone world.
Couple that with users’ tendency to use the same password for all their accounts, from Facebook to Bank of America, and there’s danger ahead.
Personally I believe the next really major shock to business is going to come after cell phones become a pervasive tool in paying bills and managing accounts, taking over where we today use credit cards.
The slipshod and pretty much un-fixable security of these devices is going to impact not only the users whose accounts are compromised, but all of us since the costs will be high when businesses rush to implement more secure technology.
Look to Europe for better solutions here.
The Europeans have better privacy laws and they use the chip and pin technology on credit cards, not the flimsy chip and signature technology that’s used in the U.S.
Bottom line: It’s not a matter of “if” … it’s a matter of when.
And for millennials playing loose with their information and their devices, “when” is increasingly likely to be sooner rather than later.
Take it from me, an ID theft survivor, reconciling an ID theft situation requires an enormous amount of time, effort and worry.
Really, it’s better to be safe than sorry.