Consumers can do more to protect their identity
Though most Ohioans consider themselves adept at protecting their personal information, a recent study found consumers may not be doing enough to keep identity thieves at bay.
About 90 percent of respondents in an Ohio Credit Union League 2019 consumer survey consider themselves to be well-informed consumers when it comes to protecting themselves from identity theft.
“That fits with the national trend,” said Brent Binkley, chief operating officer at Eaton Family Credit Union. “Consumers have become increasingly aware their personal information needs protection.”
Binkley said since stories about data breaches have become a regular part of the news cycle, the proportion of consumers concerned about fraud rose from 51 percent in 2016 to 69 percent in 2017, citing a Javelin Strategy and Research study.
Javelin also found that 6.6 percent of U.S. consumers became victims of identity fraud in 2017, an increase of almost one million victims over 2016.
Yet, research shows consumers aren’t doing enough to properly protect their personal information. According to a poll from CreditCards.com, 92 percent of American adults have taken at least one big risk with their data security in the past year.
“It’s really a difficult task now,” Binkley said, explaining the sheer amount of data consumers now need to protect across multiple platforms can be overwhelming. “Fraud also is a moving target.”
The Javelin study found credit and debit cards with EMV chips, which were designed to thwart data thieves, have only driven these thieves online. Also, “Card Not Present Fraud,” perpetrated against online shoppers, is now 81 percent more likely than point-of-sale fraud that would be used against those shopping in-store.
CreditCards.com suggests that even the most careful U.S. consumers are likely to find their personal information has been compromised at some point. The best knowledge consumers can have is how to realize their information has been stolen and what to do to correct it.
Binkley offers these tips for surviving identity fraud:
- Notify affected creditors or financial institution. Working with creditors or a financial institution as soon as you identify fraud will typically save you money. In the case of a compromised credit card, the Fair Credit Billing Act specifies your maximum liability for unauthorized charges is $50. Debit and ATM cards are protected under the Electronic Fund Transfer Act, which specifies that victims are not on the hook for any fraudulent activity that appears on a card after they’ve already reported it stolen. If fraudulent charges appear on the card before the victim can report it as stolen, consumers have a two-business-day window in which to report the unauthorized charges and get a $50 liability limit. After that, there is a $500 liability limit for up to 60-days after the statement reflecting the fraud is issued.
- File a report with the Federal Trade Commission. Visit www.identitytheft.gov to let the government know your identity has been compromised. While federal investigators tend to pursue more sophisticated fraud cases, they also monitor identity theft crimes of all levels to help them find useful patterns. It’s also important to fill out the Federal Trade Commission’s ID theft complaint and affidavit form, which, combined with a police report, will help with disputing fraudulent accounts. The Federal Trade Commission will also provide you with a personalized recovery plan.
- Put a fraud alert on your credit report. After detecting fraud, contact any one of the three credit reporting agencies to request a fraud alert. The alert will show creditors that activity on your compromised account does not reflect your borrowing habits. The alert will last for 90 days. You may also place an extended fraud alert, one that lasts seven years, on your credit report after filing a police report or an ID theft complaint form from the Federal Trade Commission.
- Consider placing a credit freeze on your reports. A credit freeze prevents the credit reporting agencies from releasing your credit report to new creditors. Placing a freeze on reports is usually free if you can prove you’re an ID theft victim. At most, consumers will pay about $10 depending in which state they live.
Dave Godek, MBA
Business Development Manager
Eaton Family Credit Union