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What are Identity Thieves Really After?
Identity Theft has been the top consumer complaint filed with the FTC for 15 years straight. Victims are spending an exorbitant amount of time and money dealing with it. The criminals are getting smarter and they are not going away.
Prior to 2016, the majority of data breaches in the headlines involved the large scale theft of credit card numbers from major retailers. Data-focused thieves are targeting more than what is in your wallet these days. They are looking to exploit your identity in much deeper and sophisticated ways. In 2016, billions of pieces of personal and private information were stolen from commercial enterprises and governments alike. Some of these data breaches involved the theft of email addresses and associated passwords. Others involved the theft of significant amounts of individual health information. Still others involved the theft of credit reports and other valuable personal financial information. This kind of information enables data thieves to pursue what they believe will deliver more lucrative profits, such as tax return refunds, medical insurance reimbursements, and retirement account looting.
When compared with the loss of credit card data, identity-focused data theft can be much more damaging to consumers because it is more difficult to detect. In addition, the theft of such data can have a longer lifecycle that makes it harder to address early on, and remediating its impact can require a substantial time commitment and be more expensive.
The theft of personal data is a lucrative criminal enterprise that is not going away. It is anticipated that the targeting of individuals, businesses, and governments will become more pronounced in the coming years. Our personal data is increasingly scattered in a variety of ways, and this creates opportunities for motivated thieves to steal it. Everyone needs protection.
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