Unfortunately, our identities have become key weapons in the arsenals of online fraudsters.

According to findings from Javelin Strategy & Research, an estimated 15.4 million U.S. consumers suffered some kind of identity theft last year — an all-time high.

From credit cards to loan applications

Identity theft rates have continued to surge in 2017 and the majority of identity fraud is now carried out online. Fraudsters are relentlessly targeting consumers with the intent of stealing their credentials and using them for malicious gain, something made easier by the vast amount of easily-accessible (and illegally obtainable) personal data available online. With everything from account and credit card takeovers to fraudulent applications for loans, retail and insurance products, users have never been more susceptible to this form of criminality.

"Identity theft is a scourge to consumers and enterprises alike, and big business for cyber-criminals."

It’s impacting organizations in a big way, too. The last couple of years have seen a huge growth in business email compromise —  also known as ‘whaling’ — which are phishing scams specifically targeted at business execs with the authority to make or request monetary transfers on behalf of their organization. The goal is to trick them into making a payment to a third party account. In reality, these are often well thought-out email attacks masquerading as requests from C-level ‘colleagues’ that result in nothing but quick, easy funds for the fraudsters.

The role of awareness

Identity theft is a scourge to consumers and enterprises alike, and big business for cyber-criminals. Often victims are unaware they’ve been targeted until it’s too late, and tricksters know that fraud prevention technology can only do so much: the key to defense is awareness.

Whether it’s at home or in the office, users will continue to fall victim to identity fraud until they become wise to the techniques fraudsters use. It’s about giving people the knowledge and confidence to stop, think and ask ‘is this normal?’ —  something that visitors to Infosecurity North America conference in Boston, October 4-5, will have the perfect opportunity to learn about in the event’s opening session ‘Securing the Human Factor.’