As data breaches become fact of life, raise your awareness of problems, solutions
Verbal passwords can help protect against identity theft
By Byron Acohido, ThirdCertainty
Data breaches have become part of everyday life. If you or the company you work for haven’t been a victim of data theft or outright fraud, the experience very likely lies in your future.
News of high-profile data breaches has become like white noise. Yet the effects of becoming a victim of identity theft are tangible and can be profound. I recently sat down with Maria Valenzuela, senior investigator at CyberScout, whose job is to help individual victims recover from identity theft and cyber fraud. (Full disclosure: CyberScout underwrites ThirdCertainty.) Here are a few key takeaways:
Account takeovers are on the rise. Compromised information is being used by identity thieves to assume fake identities in order to take over victims’ credit cards and checking accounts. Through data breaches, thieves can obtain your name, address, Social Security number, date of birth and even your account number. They can then contact your bank by phone and use the stolen information to prove their fake identity.
Separately, they are able to obtain fake IDs and even have a card sent out to an address. From there, it is an easy step to transfer the funds, apply for new cards, and even add themselves as an authorized user.
Targets are being cherry picked. Thieves aren’t just going after any old accounts with this information. They are focusing on established accounts with high lines of credit. For example, if you have a Bank of America account that has been opened for over a decade with a balance of $10,000, thieves are going to target you over someone with an account that has only been open for a year that contains $2,000.
Bank fraud is becoming increasingly focused on taking over existing accounts because banks have become stricter when it comes to newly opened ones. With a newly opened account, banks can and will block the activity immediately. Established accounts already are approved and have an approved line of credit. They can use those accounts without restrictions.
Protect yourself with a verbal password. Prevent account takeover attempts by establishing verbal passwords. A verbal password is a specific security question and answer that someone will not be able to obtain from your credit report, public records or your social media accounts. Think your favorite holiday destination or favorite color rather than your mother’s maiden name. Even if someone calls up with all of your information in hand, they will still need your verbal password to access your account.
For a deeper dive, please view the accompanying video.