Imagine criminals want to steal your household belongings and you watch only one door — even though there are three doors. If you have or are contemplating purchasing credit monitoring, that’s not bad, but it absolutely won’t help stop the biggest and most prevalent forms of ID theft.
ID theft is the No. 1 consumer complaint for the 15th consecutive year according to the Federal Trade Commission Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book, which was released last week. The types of identity theft and the ages of the victims outlined in the new report might surprise you.
The Consumer Sentinel Network, known as CSN, is a secure online database of millions of consumer complaints available only to law enforcement. They report that 38.7 percent of ID-theft complaints are related to government documents and benefits fraud, and that most of these complaints (nearly 33 percent) were attributed to tax or wage-related fraud such as taxpayer ID theft and refund fraud. Credit monitoring doesn’t help with these abuses at all.
The CSN complaints are based on consumers completing and submitting an official FTC affidavit based on a consumer’s actual experience and not based on a consumer survey.
Below is a complete list of how victims reported being abused by ID theft, per information from the FTC. The numbers tally more than 100 percent because people may have been victims of multiple types of ID theft.
• Government documents/benefits fraud: 38.7 percent.
• Credit card fraud: 17.4 percent.
• Phone or utilities fraud: 12.5 percent.
• Bank fraud: 8.2 percent.
• Employment-related fraud: 4.8 percent.
• Loan fraud: 4.4 percent.
• Other identity theft: 21.8 percent.
The scary awakening for us all is the summary of the above data with 70 percent of consumers hit by non-financial ID theft, which means it won’t be on a credit report and therefore credit monitoring won’t help one bit.
Another FTC complaint category is identity theft complaints by victims’ age (see chart below). I recommend that each age group pay close attention and especially those 50s and above, as 39 percent of all ID-theft complaints were from those age 50 and older.
• 19 and younger: 6 percent.
• 20-29: 18 percent.
• 30-39: 18 percent.
• 40-49: 19 percent.
• 50-59: 19 percent.
• 60-69: 13 percent.
• 70 and older: 7 percent.
Based on all of the recent data breach events making headline news, including Anthem, Morgan Stanley and now Uber, I believe consumer ID theft complaints to the FTC will continue to increase. I anticipate the number of consumer complaints next year to be even higher.
Since the average victim of identity theft spends numerous hours, weeks, months, and in some cases years trying to recover from financial or non-financial ID theft and fraud, consumers need to increase their education and vigilance to the two fastest-growing forms of ID theft: taxpayer ID theft and fraud and medical ID theft.
If you are in the market for identity theft solutions, be sure the offering includes ID theft restoration, as it’s not a matter of “if” but “when” you will become a victim. The top ID theft services will help you emerge from the headaches, aggravation and losses that ID theft can cause, whether financial, medical, government document or any other type of identity theft.
Mark’s Most Important: Watch all of the ID theft “doors”, consider the FTC’s report and consider more than credit monitoring to protect yourself.
Mark Pribish is vice president and ID-theft practice leader at Merchants Information Solutions Inc., an ID theft-background screening company based in Phoenix. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article was originally published on AZcentral.com and republished with the author’s permission.