For the 12th year in a row, identity theft topped the list of consumer complaints released by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for 2011. Of more than 1.8 million complaints filed in 2011, 279,156 – or 15 percent – were identity theft complaints, and nearly 25 percent of those identity theft complaints were related tax- or wage-related fraud. For more information about the FTC’s Top Complaint Categories for 2011, visit: http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2012/02/2011complaints.shtm. Continue reading
Fueled in part by the rise in the use of smart phones and social media by consumers, as well as a large number of data breaches, identity theft incidents in the United States rose by 13 percent in 2011 to affect nearly 12 million Americans, according to the ‘2012 Identity Fraud Report: Social Media and Mobile Forming the New Fraud Frontier’ survey released by Javelin Strategy & Research. To download the identity theft survey from Javelin, visit https://www.javelinstrategy.com/brochure/239. Continue reading
As part of a stepped-up effort against tax refund fraud and identity theft, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the Justice Department have announced that a massive nationwide sweep last week targeting 105 people in 23 states to crack down on suspected identity theft perpetrators resulted in 939 criminal charges related to identity theft, according to a news release on the IRS website available at: http://www.irs.gov/newsroom/article/0,,id=253147,00.html?portlet=108. Continue reading
A new California law due to take effect January 1, 2012 – Senate Bill 909 (SB 909) – appears to be one of the first in the nation that addresses the growing concerns over the controversial practice of “offshoring” personally identifiable information (PII) collected during background checks of job applicants by sending the data outside of United States and its territories and beyond the protection of U.S. privacy and identity theft laws. This is Trend Number 9 of the fifth annual Employment Screening Resources (ESR) ‘Top 10 Trends in Background Checks’ for 2012. To view the list of trends, visit http://www.esrcheck.com/ESR-Top-10-Trends-in-Background-Checks-for-2012.php. Continue reading
To better protect the Social Security numbers (SSNs) of deceased Americans from identity theft, the “Keeping IDs Safe Act” was recently introduced in the U.S. House by Representative Sam Johnson (R-Texas), according to a press release on Johnson’s website. Also known as the “KIDS Act,” the legislature would make it harder for identity thieves to steal SSNs of deceased children and others by limiting access to the Death Master File publicly released by the Social Security Administration (SSA). Continue reading
With the arrival of Thanksgiving, shoppers are constantly warned to avoid identity theft and fraud during “Black Friday,” the day after Thanksgiving considered the official kick-off to the holiday shopping season. For “Cyber Monday,” the Monday after Thanksgiving weekend when shoppers return to work and start their holiday shopping online – and which became the biggest online shopping day in history and the first to surpass the billion-dollar threshold in November 2010 – nonprofit consumer information and advocacy organization Privacy Rights Clearinghouse (PRC) offers the following 10 tips to protect online shoppers from identity theft and fraud. Continue reading
The United States Government Accountability Office (GAO) has issued a report titled ‘TAXES AND IDENTITY THEFT – Status of IRS Initiatives to Help Victimized Taxpayers’ that reveals a huge jump in the number of tax-related identity theft incidents identified by Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Primarily refund or employment fraud attempts, the IRS identified 248,357 tax-related identity theft incidents in 2010, nearly five times the amount of such incidents reported in 2008. Continue reading
It may be hard for most parents to imagine that their children could have homes in foreclosure or huge bills in collection before they are even old enough to apply for student loans for college, but a new report released by Carnegie Mellon University’s CyLab – “Child Identity Theft: New Evidence Indicates Identity Thieves are Targeting Children for Unused Social Security Numbers” – reveals that one in ten 10 children scanned for the report had someone else using their Social Security number (SSN) to commit identity theft and fraud. Continue reading
A list of top consumer complaints received in 2010 by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the nation’s consumer protection agency, showed that identity theft was the number one consumer complaint category for the 11th year in a row, with 250,854 – or 19 percent – of the 1,339,265 complaints received by the FTC related to identity theft. Continue reading
By Thomas Ahearn, Employment Screening Resources (ESR) News Editor
According to a press release from the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), an estimated 11.7 million people were victims of identity theft during the two years prior to being surveyed in 2008, and the financial losses due to the identity theft totaled more than $17 billion.
The findings are based on the 2008 Identity Theft Supplement (ITS) to the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS). The ITS surveyed over 56,000 persons age 16 or older in the U.S. about the types of identity theft experienced in a two-year period.
In the survey, “identity theft” was defined as the attempted or successful misuse of an existing account, such as a debit or credit account, misuse of personal information to open a new account, or misuse of personal information for other fraudulent purposes.
Other key findings of the survey include (figures are estimates):
- 6.2 million victims experienced the unauthorized use or attempted use of an existing credit card account, the most prevalent type of identity theft.
- 4.4 million victims reported the misuse or attempted misuse of a banking account, such as a debit, checking, or savings account.
- 1.7 million victims experienced the fraudulent misuse of their information to open a new account, and
- 618,900 victims reported the misuse of their information to commit other crimes, such as fraudulently obtaining medical care or government benefits or providing false information to law enforcement during a crime or traffic stop.
- 16 percent of all victims experienced multiple types of identity theft during the two-year period.
- 23 percent of all victims suffered an out-of-pocket financial loss due to the victimization, with the average out-of-pocket financial loss being $1,870.
- 40 percent of victims had some idea about how their identifying information was obtained.
Following publication, the report – Victims of Identity Theft, 2008 (NCJ 231680) – can be found at http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov.
The story serves as a reminder of why the Personally Identifiable Information (PII) of consumers used in background checks must be protected from threats like identity theft. As reported previously on ESR News, identity theft remains a threat not only to individual consumers but also employers and businesses as well since much identity theft occurs in the workplace as evidenced by the following stories:
- Background Check Information Allegedly Stolen at Fingerprint Center for Identity Theft
- New Security Survey Finds Nearly One-Third of Healthcare Organizations Had At Least One Known Case of Medical Identity Theft
- New Poll Shows Two Out of Three Americans Feel At Risk for Identity Theft
- FTC Extends Enforcement Deadline for Identity Theft Red Flags Rule To December 31, 2010
Since much identity theft occurs at the workplace, employers should know what steps they can take to prevent identity theft. To help protect the personal information of consumers used in background checks from identity theft, the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS®) created the Background Screening Agency Accreditation Program (BSAAP) to be a widely recognized “seal” of approval representing a background screening organization’s commitment to excellence, accountability, and high professional standards. The Background Screening Credentialing Council (BSCC) oversees the application process and ensures that background screening organizations seeking accreditation meet or exceed a measurable standard of competence, including protection of consumer information against identity theft.
Employment Screening Resources (ESR) – a leading provider of background checks – has successfully proved compliance with the stringent standards of the BSAAP and is now formally recognized as NAPBS BSCC Accredited. To help prevent identity theft, background screening reports from ESR never carry a full Social Security number (SSN) or Date of Birth (DOB).
To learn more about accreditation, read ‘Background Screening Credentialing Council Recognizes Accredited Companies’ at:
For more information on identity theft, visit the Employment Screening Resources (ESR) Resource Center Applicant Resources page at http://www.esrcheck.com/Applicant-Resources.php.
Founded in 1996 in the San Francisco Bay area, Employment Screening Resources (ESR) is the company that wrote the book on background checks with ‘The Safe Hiring Manual’ by ESR founder and President Lester Rosen. Employment Screening Resources is accredited by The National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS®) Background Screening Credentialing Council (BSCC) for proving compliance with the Background Screening Agency Accreditation Program (BSAAP). ESR was the third U.S. background check firm to be Safe Harbor’Certified for data privacy protection. To learn more about ESR’s Leadership, Resources, and Solutions, visit http://www.ESRcheck.com or contact Jared Callahan, ESR Director of Client Relations, at 415.898.0044 or jcallahan@ESRcheck.com.