Identity theft continues to affect Americans with credit card fraud topping the list of identity thefts crimes in 2019. This according to research by PreciseSecurity. In 2019 some 271, 823 Americans were victims of credit card fraud.
Overall, more than 9 million Americans have their identities stolen each year. Identity theft complaints in the U.S. reached 650,000 in 2019, this is more than double 2018s 270,000 victims.
Other forms of credit card fraud committed last year include loan or lease fraud (104,699 cases); utilities fraud (83,535 cases) and bank fraud (58,723 cases).
The Rise of Credit Card Fraud
Since 2015 the US has seen a steady rise in reports of people’s information being used in credit card frauds. The initial figure in 2015 was 80,000 and then grew by more than 65% in 2016 to reach 124,500 reported cases. However, a slight downturn was witnessed in the ensuing two years with the reported cases peaking at 158,000. However last year saw an unprecedented surge by 40% to reach 271, 823 cases of credit card fraud.
The spate of identity thefts stem from the fact that targeted people don’t report suspicious activity on their credit reports and don’t regularly check for identity theft warning signs. Scammers can get a victim’s credit card number by using fraudulent websites or credit card skimmers. Credit card numbers can also be part of a data breach, where hackers sell the number wholesale in the Dark Web.
Last year, the Federal Trade Commission Consumer Sentinel Network received more than 31,000 reports from people whose information was misused on an existing bank account. This represents a 4% decline compared to 2018 figures. However, over 246,000 credit card frauds were carried out on new accounts, or 88% more than a year before.
PreciseSecurity’s data reveals Americans in their thirties were the most exposed to credit card frauds. They amount to some 74,572 complaints or nearly 30% of all reports last year.
These are followed by those in their fifties with more than 55,600 complaints. Americans in their twenties are in third place with over 43,000 credit card fraud reports in 2019.
What is Credit Card Fraud?
Credit card fraud, is a federal offense that is a type of identity theft and occurs when someone steals your credit card and its information to make purchases. The thief then use the information to make ATM withdrawals or conduct online or offline transactions. The full gamut of identity theft could include accessing your personal information, health insurance information or financials and compromising them.
The scammers can take this information and take out loans or opening new accounts in your name. They might also use that information to fraudulently use your health insurance plan to cover prescription drugs or see a doctor.
Identity theft can cause irreparable damage for individuals and businesses alike. It can ruin your financial record by using your information to fraudulently obtain everything from a loan to products.
The effects are also more pronounced when businesses are targeted with identity theft. This is because those affected will not only be the businesses but also threaten the livelihood of employees and customers who deal with the company.
How to Protect Your Small Business Against Credit Card Fraud
The key to managing any threat is to stay vigilant and keep an eye for warning signs. Indicators that someone is trying to commit credit card fraud on your business may include purchasing an unusual number of expense items. Or making multiple failed attempts to purchase prior to passing authorization.
In instances where you are doubtful of the customer cross check your customer’s ID with every credit card purchase. Check to make sure there are no obvious tampering or damage to the credit card. And Use Address Verification Service (AVS) to confirm the cardholder’s billing address matches with the card issuer in your file.
If you suspect a credit card fraud, call the card user’s authorization center and seek a Code 10-authorization request. Businesses use a Code 10 Authorization Request to verify a card’s validity over the phone while simultaneously alerting the card issuer of suspicious activity
Scammers are becoming savvy and looking to exploit weaknesses in your cyber security. Whenever possible, try to opt-in for two-factor authentication on your accounts. This will provide an additional layer of protection for your login information. This will help you reduce risks of using open WiFi that is a hotbed for malicious behavior.
With two-factor authentication you have to provide another piece of data, such as entering a code sent to your mobile device, clicking a link to an email or answering a security question. Make sure you regularly change your password and have strong passwords that have a combination of number, symbols and letters in caps.
Additionally, make sure to store your sensitive data and unauthorized individuals can’t access it. If you discover a fraudulent transaction has occurred contact your credit card processor and the local authorities immediately.