Year-End Identity Theft and Cybercrime Summary

With 2022 only a few days away, a fresh start for many is on the horizon. The last 12 months saw an array of identity theft and cybercrime issues with incidents affecting people worldwide and demonstrating just how serious a problem fraud in all its forms continues to be.

Common scams, corporate data breaches, and privacy concerns are among the many problems facing the average consumer. With a rise in awareness of the issues, many people are taking the necessary steps to foster a safer digital world for themselves and their families. Despite this, cybercriminals continue to find new ways to steal and deceive.

This post will touch on some of the most pressing news stories and current events surrounding the state of cybercrime moving into the new year.

Everyone is a Target

Learning lessons from the past is a critical aspect of preparing for tomorrow. And one lesson that cybercriminals taught us in 2021 is that everyone is a target for fraud and identity theft. Ransomware incidents involving schools effectively put our children at risk. The threat of elder fraud has worsened, and we continue to see our older citizens become victims. Every demographic in between also saw an increase in instances of fraud, and this trend builds off previous years.

Cybercriminals will go after any easy opportunity. They do not care about your age, profession, income, or agenda. If they think that they can trick you into providing personal information or can steal money outright, they will attempt to do so by any means necessary. And there is no end to the situation in sight because these criminals continue to rake in record amounts of money through fraud. Total yearly losses to consumers because of identity theft now number in the billions of dollars, and with that much money in play, the problem will continue.

Your Information is Already Out There

2021 has also been a record year for significant corporate data breaches, and we cover these in the Business section of our Expert Insights. Still, the vast number of exposed records from these breaches indicate that your personal information is almost certainly out in the ethers somewhere for nefarious actors to exploit. Despite your own best security efforts, an onslaught of data breaches targeting larger businesses and popular social media sites continues.

Significant breaches hitting Facebook and LinkedIn alone compromised over 1 billion user accounts. And while the loss of your personal information through these common platforms may not seem like a huge deal, cybercriminals only need a crumb about a victim in order to start scamming that target. An exposed email address and name are enough to increase your risk substantially.

Common Myths are Sticking Around

The average consumer is far more informed regarding data security than ever before. But there are still a handful of common myths surrounding personal data issues that are either bad advice or misinformation.

One of these is believing that scams are easy to spot or that you are immune to somehow becoming a victim. We identify over 30 different types of fraud, and there is a spiderweb of variations between them. Classic scam tactics continue to be effective, and threat actors are constantly developing new ways to trick you. The abundance of pandemic-related scams over the last year and a half demonstrate just how adaptive cybercriminals can be. You may be more informed than the average person, but you are never untouchable.

Another common myth is that a complicated password is enough to protect you from becoming a victim of identity theft. A complex password is a step in the right direction, but it’s far from a solution to the problem. It’s only one piece of the puzzle, and you need to supplement this good habit with other practices such as two-factor authentication and never using the same password for multiple accounts.

New Technologies Create New Threats

While common scams such as phishing and credit card fraud continue, new technologies are creating new threats to look out for. Deepfake scams are increasingly used to great effect, tricking victims into believing that the voice on the other end of a call is authentic. This tactic now involves scammers using doctored videos with computer-generated audio to commit many types of fraud. The technologies used to create these videos were pretty rudimentary a few years ago but have since improved drastically – often fooling even people who think that they know what to spot.

AI-based fraud seems a likely new avenue for consumer exploitation, and it has caught the attention of government agencies like the FBI. We will continue to monitor developments with this type of fraud and provide updates in upcoming posts. It’s essential to always remain skeptical if you suspect potential fraud, regardless of what format or medium in which it arrives

Regulators Focus on the Consumer

Consumers are gaining power and control over their data rights. New regulations are popping up to increase the required cybersecurity efforts from companies that store your data. Businesses now face strict fines and other penalties if they don’t have data security plans in place. They also must inform customers when their data has been exposed in a timely manner.

This is good news for the average consumer and shows ongoing acknowledgment from regulators to the severity of data security issues. Holding businesses more accountable for proper cybersecurity practices before a data breach occurs reduces the threat to consumers and keeps people informed when they may be at greater risk.

Looking Ahead

The best advice for staying prepared for the many forms of fraud out there is to inform yourself of them, never provide your personal information to untrusted sources, and have identity theft restoration services in place.

There’s no way to prevent your becoming a victim, but the more tools with which you equip yourself, the better off you’ll be to navigate through an incident and limit the damages or loss it creates. By laying the foundation for personal data security, you can look ahead into the new year with more peace of mind concerning identity theft.

LibertyID provides expert, full service, fully managed identity theft restoration to individuals, couples, extended families* and businesses. LibertyID has a 100% success rate in resolving all forms of identity fraud on behalf of our subscribers.

*LibertyID defines an extended family as: you, your spouse/partner, your parents and parents-in-law, and your children under the age of 25.