2018 has been a wild ride for digital users on the data security front.

According to data from The Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC)1,579 data breaches exposed approximately 179 million consumer data records in 2017. More alarmingly, those figures were up 44% and 389%, respectively, from 2016.

Meanwhile, a 2017 Consumer Fraud Protections Survey from AYTM, an independence research firm, revealed that 25% of consumers claimed they “stopped doing business” with companies following a fraud or data breach incident.

Here’s a list of five threats that are of particular worry for your customers in 2018

1. Identity Theft via Credit CardAccording to the IRTC, 14.2 million credit card numbers were exposed by data hackers and I.D. thieves in 2017 – a staggering 88% uptick from 2016. Of all forms of identity theft, credit card fraud is far and away the most common form of I.D. theft, with 133,015 reports of card fraud, according to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission. The next most pervasive form of identity theft is employment or tax-related fraud, with 82,051 cases reported, the FTC states.

How to Recognize Credit Card Hacks. Common forms of credit card debt include a customer noticing unknown purchases on their bank account statement or if a cardholder sees small, unfamiliar purchases on their credit card statement.

2. Child Identity Theft

Another major source of anxiety for customers is child identity theft, which saw 13,852 I.D. theft reports, according to the FTC. Additional data from Experian shows that child identity theft will impact 25% of children before they reach age 18.

How to Recognize Child I.D. Theft. Common signs of child I.D. theft include calls, emails and letters from collection agencies, bills or credit cards sent to a parent’s residence in your child’s name. Any letters from the Internal Revenue Service in a child’s name is another red flag, as are pre-approved credit card offers in a child’s name.

3. Senior Identity Theft/Senior Scams

The Federal Trade Commission found that 35% of fraud complaints and 18.9% of identity theft complaints in 2017 targeted Americans 60-years-and-older seniors. There’s a good reason seniors are targeted by fraudsters and scam artists. Older Americans are likely to have more savings and higher credit ratings, thus making them a bigger mark for data theft and money scams. U.S. seniors are also less likely to use the Internet and mobile apps, making them less likely to check credit card and bank statements that can signal a data theft incident.

How to recognize senior I.D. Theft and Scams. Prevalent forms of senior I.D. theft or other financial scams include Medicare/health insurance scams, which targets Americans 65-or-older. In additional, telemarketing phone scams, where scam artists try to obtain a senior’s credit card or Social Security number, and Internet fraud, where seniors inadvertently download malware and other data virus packages designed to access personal financial data, are also pervasive forms of senior I.D. fraud.

4. Imposter Scams

These scams occur when a fraud artist purports to be someone an individual knows and trusts, and leverages that “relationship” to access personal data and steal money from bank and credit card accounts. In 2017, imposter scams ranked as the number one data fraud scam by the Federal Trade Commission. (One in five U.S. adults victimized by imposter scam lost cash in the incident, the FTC reports.)

How to Recognize Imposter Scams. Nanny and caregiver imposters, fraudsters purporting to be from the I.R.S., and bogus lottery and sweepstakes official scams are all notoriously common ways for individuals to be targeted by imposters.

5. Tax I.D. Theft

Tax I.D. theft occurs when fraudsters steal and individual’s name and Social Security number and file a tax return in their name – before that individual can file his or her taxes. Often, the fraudsters use fake income and withholding numbers so they can get a bigger refund check sent to their address. Tax fraud was the second most common type of identity theft reported by consumers, according to the FTC.

How to Recognize Tax I.D. Theft. If more than one tax return was filed using a Social Security number, an individual may have experienced tax I.D. theft. Or, if an individual owes additional taxes, has a tax refund offset or has had collection actions taken against them for a year that individual did not file a tax return, tax I.D. theft may be in play. Additionally, if IRS records indicate an individual received wages or other income from an employer they don’t recognize, that could mean their Social Security number was compromised.
Help Your Customers with ID Protection Packages

Identity fraud occurs approximately every three seconds, so many of your customers may have already experienced the devastating effects of ID fraud. Digital crime is an unfortunate byproduct of the rapid introduction and evolution of new technologies and opportunity for hackers, thieves and fraudsters abound.

That said, companies can capitalize on this growing category of threats and ease their customers’ anxieties by offering proven identity theft protection through a strategic partnership with data security specialists like Experian.

In an increasingly competitive corporate environment, customers are fickle and there are precious few ways to stand out from the crowd. Offering ID protection services is a way to attract new customers, engage them through branded updates, alerts and dashboards, and prove to them that you have their backs in a way that truly matters to them.

I want to turn my customers into loyalists!