Identity thieves are looking for new ways to commit crime now that EMV technology has increased security features for card-present transactions. Instead of targeting their efforts in-stores, fraudsters are beginning to capitalize on new account fraud and international fraud. However, there are steps you can take to decrease the chance of becoming victim to identity thieves.


Let’s take a further look at how you can protect yourself from becoming a target of identity theft and the main ways identity thieves are committing crime:


How to Protect Against Identity Thieves


Here are four recommendations provided by Javalin on how you can reduce the probability of falling victim to identity theft:


  1. Get help when fraud is discovered: When an instance of fraud occurs, immediately contact your financial institution so they can begin taking action. The sooner they are notified, the quicker they can help with damages or loss of funds towards your account(s).
  2. Select a distinct password: Be sure to use a strong password that includes a variety of characters, several letters and symbols, and capitalized letters. It is important to frequently change your password every 90 days for extended protection.
  3. Keep your mobile device protected: To protect your phone in case it is stolen, it would be wise to use a passcode lock or use the Touch ID feature at all times. This will prevent strangers from accessing your phone and personal information that is stored. Make sure to also install any software updates your phone gets. These updates will patch up any bugs that could cause security vulnerability.
  4. Sign up for account notifications: Sign up to receive account notifications via text messaging or e-mail. If there is any suspicious activity on your account(s), you will be alerted promptly.


Increase of International Fraud


Identity thieves can take advantage of the payment system by committing international crime. Their main objective is to obtain money or products from consumers and businesses through a variety of scams. A study done by Javalin found out that 18 percent of stolen U.S. credit card numbers used for fraudulent reasons were applied outside of the country.


One of the main reasons it is difficult to capture identity thieves outside of the U.S. is because international thieves put a travel alert on cards. For instance, if a thief plans to make purchases in Germany, they will deceive the credit card company by alerting them that the person related to the stolen card number is travelling to Germany. Doing this makes it hard for the security team that is in charge of the card to flag the transaction as suspicious.


New Account Fraud Growing


According to the 2015 Javelin report, around 13 million consumers experienced identity theft fraud. The main form of identity theft fraud that occurred was new account fraud, which has doubled since last year.


“Fraud is changing in a way that makes it more dangerous,” said Al Pascual, director of fraud and security at Javelin. “There is some troubling news, but some good news, too.”


As EMV and the distribution of chip cards continues to grow, criminals are commiting fraud by stealing social security numbers so they can create new credit cards and use the victim’s identity. Those who fell victim to social security theft had a much higher chance of experiencing new account fraud.


“We had been projecting this kind of change. But it was compounded by the fact that last year was a big year for theft of sensitive information. There were 64% more Social Security numbers exposed in 2015 than 2014,” said Pascual.


Identity theft is a serious issue within the payments industry and is something everyone should be on the lookout for. As payments continue to evolve, many identity thieves are altering how they commit fraud and are looking for new ways to attack. It is important to learn steps to protect against identity thieves, become alert for international fraud, and being on the look out for new account fraud.