While most people like to think of the new year as a time to look forward to better times ahead, identity theft expert Robert Siciliano tends to take a bleaker view. He sees consumers more at risk for identity theft next year than now for several compelling reasons. In association with the Identity Theft Resource Center he came up with a top 10 list outlining his predictions, which included the following insights, among others:
1. The ongoing recession and high unemployment will spawn new scams, and more creativity in older scams. It will also lead to more medical identity theft, since fewer people will have access to affordable health insurance. Some will use the insurance coverage of people they know; some will steal it from those they don’t.
2. Insufficient security in the workplace will lead to more “insider identity theft,” meaning people will have more opportunities to steal information from internal databases and release it to persons that should not see such information. Linda Foley, founder of the Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC), also asserted that criminals jailed for crimes related to hacking corporate networks will continue their business even from behind bars, thanks to accomplices on the outside.
3. More people will try to get financial help from the government – and in the process they will find out that their Social Security numbers, or those of their children, have been misused. This could cause them to get denied benefits, even if they should be approved for them.
4. Jay Foley, ITRC executive director, says that there will be more first-timers trying to commit identity theft. For example, people who can no longer use their own credit, whether it is maxed out or canceled, may resort to low-tech ID theft methods, such as shoulder skimming and dumpster diving, to try to benefit financially.
5. There will be more job ad scams. Right now these scams are not hard to find. Just go to craigslist on any given day. Siciliano warns that they will be on the increase in 2010. A big reason is that it’s not uncommon to provide personal information on a resume or job application – including a Social Security number. Says Siciliano, “If the job description is not one that you would see printed on a business card, or you are asked to front money, it’s a scam.”
You hear over and over that we are living in tough times, uncertain times and the like. You certainly don’t want to see things get worse. Currently, there are about 10 million American identity theft victims per year, which seems like quite enough. More Americans – including you – should sign up for an identity theft protection service. It’s one way to not be part of a growing trend, and to really start the new year off on the right foot.