New Resources to Fight ID Crimes


Mandy Moody, CFE       
ACFE Social Media Specialist

My mornings usually consist of hitting the snooze button at least three times at home, getting my daughter ready for school in a zombie-like fashion and hopping in my car just in time to miss traffic. I typically stop for coffee or gas, depending on the day, and then arrive at work ready to take that first sip of joe. However, after attending ID360: The Global Forum on Identity at UT Austin today, I now realize that my pleasant morning scenario is full of at least four ways a criminal could attempt to steal my identity… all before I can enjoy a full cup of coffee. You see in that mundane list of my activities lies my mortgage loan, my car loan, my credit card used at Starbucks and my debit card used at the gas station; all prime targets for someone looking to commit an identity crime.

I learned this and more during the panel discussion, “Identity Crimes and Victims: Who are criminals targeting? How do crimes affect different victims and ages?” Moderator A.T. Smith, deputy director of the U.S. Secret Service, along with representatives from the Department of Justice (DOJ), FBI and Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) weighed in on the current state of identity theft and fraud, and its life cycle from investigation to prosecution. Angela Byers, Section Chief of Financial Crimes at the FBI, reminded attendees that while there is definitely a trend of high-tech identity crimes occurring, there is still a large number of low-tech ways (cold calls and theft) criminals are getting our information. Byers mentioned the “snatch and grab” scheme that involved fraudsters stealing women’s purses from their cars or in public places and then using their personal information to commit crimes. (I guess that makes five vulnerabilities for my morning list; I leave my purse in the car every time I get gas or coffee.)

Each panelist was later asked what the most common ID crime is that they are seeing. Smith broke it down by sharing that 37 percent is credit card fraud, 23 percent is bank fraud, 13 percent is check fraud, 8 percent is false identification fraud, 7 percent is computer crime and the remaining 12 percent is full of other miscellaneous crimes.

When the panel was asked what a typical cybercriminal looks like, the answers were all too familiar: anyone. According to Jackson, it could be the guy next door doing your taxes or, as Smith said, the shadowy figure behind a computer in Eastern Europe. But, as Rusch pointed out, much of identify fraud is defined by its victims. An important way to fight it is by looking at what the victims have in common, and then arming them with the tools they need to fight back.

Texas Comptroller Susan Combs also took the stage at the Forum to announce a $5 million investment from the Texas legislature to The Center for Identity to create an online identity theft, fraud and privacy resource center. The website will provide an interactive way for businesses and individuals to become better informed and protect their information more securely through training modules, apps, quizzes, white papers, videos, games and infographics.

“The Texas Legislature has given us the opportunity to grow the Center for Identity into an international center of excellence and an unparalleled resource for Texans and beyond,” said Dr. Suzanne Barber, director for The Center for Identity. “We will equip individuals with the knowledge and tools needed to manage, protect and value their identity in today’s ever-connected world.”