Thursday, June 11, 2009

ID thieves feel the recession too

Identity thieves aren't making as much money as they did a few years ago, say consultants at Javelin Security and Research in Pleasanton, Calif.

Thievery is up -nearly 10 million Americans lost $48 billion to identity thieves last year. Online merchants lost maybe $21 billion more in potential sales when scam-shy consumers sat on their wallets, Javelin calculates.

However, thieves aren't making money like they used to, researchers found. That's partly because potential victims are getting savvier about guarding information online. But there's a recession on too and those of us who aren't spending anything until it's over are presenting potential thieves with fewer targets of opportunity.

There is at least one exception to that observation, other consultants say, and it is in a wedding aisle near you.

Nothing this year says I love you so much as a good cross-cut paper shredder, say execurives at Kroll Fraud Solutions. The New York financial services industry security consultant is hitting publicity circuits this week to warn that peak wedding season is also a prime time for identity theft.

Gift registries, online wedding planning services, honeymoon sweepstakes and giveaways and the like are all venues that scam artists potentially can hack or set up to pry important personal information from where we stash it, Kroll warns. Cell phones, laptops and similar personal gear that we may be careful about during a whirl of wedding and honeymoon preparations also are identity gold mines.

All are easy to overlook when there are seemingly more immediate potential scams to worry about. But to be safe as possible, be as stingy with personal and financial information as you can, Kroll recommends. And when you must provide it - to Social Security and the department of motor vehicles if you are changing names, utility companies if you are moving to a new home, and the IRS - keep good track of everything and store originals, such as new Social Security cards, someplace safe.

No comments: