After interviewing 5,000 folks, the latest annual Javelin study claims that the number of identity fraud victims in the United States increased 12 percent to 11.1 million adults in 2009, while the total annual fraud amount increased by 12.5 percent (or $6 billion) to $54 billion.
The report claims that small businesses are sustaining the most hits: “They suffer identity fraud at one and a half times the rate of all other adults. By using their own personal accounts for business transactions, they are at a greater risk of exposing themselves to identity fraud.” And, the report suggests that because small businesses are more at risk they “need to implement safety precautions online and offline, and should consider employee background screening checks as a precautionary measure.”
According to the report:
The economic downturn is partially to blame for the rise in identity theft, and identity thieves are increasingly using more sophisticated and varied methods to obtain the personally identifiable information (PII) of consumers. Fraudsters are becoming more sophisticated and more aggressive, and their organized approach to online fraud through a myriad of threats and scams makes it harder to detect. Fraudsters are also increasingly targeting – and taking over – multiple accounts of their victims, collectively going after checking accounts, credit card accounts, mobile phone accounts, and Internet accounts in one full sweep.
Using a combination of sophisticated malware, keystroke logging, and phishing attacks, fraudsters are able to use organized crime to steal identities. And social networking has introduced yet another means for consumers to exposure their personal information to wider audiences, providing another avenue for fraudsters to conduct their scams.
When it comes to pointing out security threats and exposures, the report’s above descriptions do not really shine a light on anything new or startling. What is helpful, however, is their pointing out just how widespread and pervasive these exposures are to small businesses – helpful commentary that cannot repeated often enough.