Identity theft is an ongoing problem for Americans, and the methods used to capture identity information are becoming increasingly creative. Findings from the 2017 Identity Fraud Study put together by Javelin Strategy & Research reveal that in 2016, $16 billion was stolen from 15.4 million consumers in the U.S. The statistics showed that someone was a victim of identity fraud every two seconds that year. As such, facing even a false accusation of identity fraud has the potential for serious consequences.
People are often afraid of their credit card information being stolen, but credit card fraud actually occurs less often than a malware attack on the computer, for example. Identity fraud is also alive and well through cyber attacks on sites such as Amazon, PayPal, and eBay. Another type of identity fraud that is gaining momentum is social engineering.
The social engineering trend
Some of the more sophisticated fraud schemes are run by individuals known as social engineers. In general, these are hackers who pose as experts of some kind whose job is to detect fraud. They extract personal information from their targets by impersonating customer support personnel, security specialists or even IRS agents. They will call and inform the person on the other end of the line that they have detected possible fraud and are following up. They may even have some portion of the target's personal information to prove their claim, thereby providing false assurances so that they can obtain more complete information.
There is also an increase in fraud rings, from small groups of people to large international syndicates that mainly concentrate their efforts on defrauding banks, often with considerable success as evidenced by billions of dollars in stolen funds. Some fraudsters have even been caught impersonating bank officers.
Navigating rough waters
Legal advice is necessary if someone is accusing you of identity theft. Either police have already arrested you or they have yet to make a formal charge. Whether you are thought to be a single social engineer or a member of a large network, your reputation is at stake and your future is in doubt. You need aggressive and effective representation by an experienced defense attorney.