Tom Johnson was in Washington DC Christmas Day. The computer executive had taken the red-eye from Las Vegas to the Capital to make sure to spend Christmas morning with his kids.
According to credit card receipts, Tom was also in Ft Lauderdale, Houston, New York City and even Moscow.
Someone had swiped Tom’s personal information, and now 2016 looked like it was going to end on a sour note.
While most cases of identity theft occur online, Forbes recently ran an article detailing how anyone with a few hundred dollars of equipment could swipe credit card data even if the card is still in the victim’s billfold.
Fingerprints are unique to people and can’t be given to someone else for their use. Raw data such as Social Security numbers, bank account, and debit card numbers can be used, bought, sold and bartered for use by someone else to profit at the victim’s expense.
Using a victim’s name and identifying data, unauthorized people withdraw funds, take over others’ identities and run up debts while they may commit other crimes. The losses aren’t limited to out-of-pocket financial losses but costs connected with restoring and correcting false information about financial and personal assets.
The phenomenon, called IJacking, encompasses the far-flung impact of thieves assuming one’s identity. With identity theft complaints rising, San Francisco has been found to be the most at risk region.
Nine out of the top ten cities at highest risk for iJacking are on the West Coast. The safer cities are on the Eastern seaboard.
Las Vegas, San Francisco, Seattle, Denver, San Jose, San Diego, Salt Lake City, Sacramento, and Phoenix are among the top ten “at risk” cities. Pittsburgh, Buffalo, New Orleans, Providence, Rochester and Virginia Beach are among the safest.
The study also points to a connection between affluence and transaction rates. Those with the most to lose are at the most risk of losing it.
San Jose, San Francisco, and Washington all come out in the top ten in transaction rates as well as the highest number of households earning over $250,000.
New Orleans, Oklahoma City, and San Antonio have the lowest amount of households earning over $250,000 and are amid the lowest cities regarding transaction rates.
High ATM use combined with Internet use and purchasing habits create the risk for iJacking and San Francisco ranks in the top percentage for technology risk factors including frequency of online banking, online purchasing and general time spent surfing the web.
TEN MOST RISKY CITIES
1) San Francisco
4) San Jose
5) San Diego
7) Salt Lake City
8) Las Vegas
TEN LEAST RISKY CITIES
45) Virginia Beach
46) New Orleans
What to Do If Your Identity is Stolen
To minimize the damage if you believe your identity has been stolen:
Lockdown the Account
Contact the financial institution, dispute the charges and instruct them to place a lock on the account so that it cannot be accessed until the matter is resolved.
Credit Monitoring Service
Some businesses provide complimentary credit monitoring to victims of identity theft. Participation is not automatic, and consumers must sign up for the service to be activated.
Scan Credit Cards
Review credit card and bank statements for unauthorized charges. If you find some, call the financial institutions to alert them to the problem.
Identity theft is a real problem that will be around for a very long time. While it can’t be eliminated, using some common sense approaches to securing your information will reduce the odds of being victimized.