Imagine waking up one day to find that you’ve allegedly spent thousands of dollars on goods you’ve never seen or that your previously pristine credit is suddenly shot. While this might seem like a mere nightmare, unfortunately, it can be a reality for people who are victims of identity theft.
Identity theft, in which fraudsters acquire a person’s personal details and use them to commit crimes or go on spending sprees, is an all too common problem around the globe. Its victims are often left destitute and facing serious and undeserved consequences that can take years to sort out and overcome.
And, while you may think this heinous crime could never happen to you, think again. Thanks in large part to the transfer of should-be secure information over the internet, identity theft is becoming more and more common.
In fact, Experian India recently conducted a study on fraudulent financial transactions and found that identity theft was the leading cause of such occurrences. The report issued by the organization states that about 77% of fraud cases in India are identity theft cases and that identity theft is especially common in the financial product, mortgage loan, auto loan, and credit card sectors. This isn’t a problem that affects India alone either; identity theft is also an ever-growing concern throughout the United States.
While, as mentioned, identity theft is a common form of fraud across a variety of sectors, experts in the industry say that consumer good loans constitute the most fraud involvement, with credit card scams running a close second.
One of the main reasons for the high number of consumer good loans fraud cases is the fact that many of these transactions take place quickly and over the counter, often at institutions that offer same-day financing and that offer goods with little or no down payments involved. Other types of lending, such as mortgage loans, take longer, are more involved, and typically require more than just a quick transaction in which a simple ID is the only proof necessary to obtain the goods. Thus, these more-involved types of lending situations aren’t as vulnerable as consumer good loans, though identity theft does occur in all kinds of financial transactions.
The Experian report, from which this information is taken, looked at fraud incidents that occurred from 2014 to 2015 and found increases in identity theft in a wide range of sectors, including the mortgage portfolio sector and other sectors formerly deemed as “safer” than others. The report also found that, while fraud was committed in many different ways, address falsification was one of the most common means by which identity theft was committed. It warned people against sharing too much sensitive information on social media sites and via emails and phone calls that attempt to solicit such information. To avoid fraud, people are also encouraged to properly dispose of their bank statements and other mail that contains sensitive information and to regularly check their credit reports and bank accounts and to report any strange or unusual activity. It’s definitely a scary world out there, and the best people can hope to do is to protect themselves and their information as well as they possibly can.