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Social networks and smartphone users, likely victims of identity fraud

February 23rd, 2012 by Agent Smith (0) Data Theft & Loss,Identity Theft

People who use social networks and smartphones can easily become victims of identity fraud, as shown in the 2012 identity fraud study carried out by Javelin Strategy & Research.

The US number of victims was 13% higher more than 11.6 million adults have fallen pray to identity fraud, yet the average dollar amount stolen in these incidents was about the same as the previous year. Consumers whose personal information has been compromised by corporate data breaches were the most likely victims. Persons who have received notifications of a data breach affecting their personal data are 9.5 times more likely to experience identity fraud than those who did not receive such a notification.

Javelin also tracked users’ online behavior to see its impact on identity fraud. “LinkedIn, Google+, Twitter and Facebook users had the highest incidence of fraud, although there is no proof of direct causation”. The survey also showed users ignore warnings about social networks being heavily used by fraudsters and are still sharing a significant amount of personal information that might be used to steal their identities. One of the examples quoted in the report was business social network LinkedIn where people connect with strangers without reading carefully or paying attention to of what they are really doing.

7% of smartphone users became victims of identity fraud last year, showing a 33% higher incidence rate compared to the general public. A good way to prevent such breaches for smartphone users is to have passwords on the home screen (the study shows 62% of mobile users fail to set one), to block access to information stored on the phone. Another safety measure to prevent identity fraud is to never tick the “remember password” button to save the information on their mobile device (32% users do this). Mobile users should also never accept the invitations of strangers or use the GPS tracking locations.

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