By Russ Anderson
Technology has opened up so many opportunities to improve how we live, work and communicate. It is hard to imagine going back to a time without mobile devices, social media, online banking or email.
But with all of these technological advances we have also opened up greater exposure for criminals to access our personal information, which has resulted in a higher incidence of fraud.
According to LIMRA research, eight in 10 consumers are concerned about becoming a victim of fraud. In fact, this isn’t an unwarranted concern. More than a third (36%) of consumers have been a victim of financial fraud at least once and 64% of these events have occurred within the past five years.
Regular and constant data breaches at private and public institutions alike have made millions if not hundreds of millions of consumers’ personal and public information readily available to anyone interested in impersonating them. As a result of these breaches, criminals have easy access to some amount of everyone’s personal and private data including their names, Social Security numbers, dates of birth, addresses, and even user names and passwords. In addition, criminals can buy information on the dark web, allowing them to steal people’s identities and leverage that information for nefarious purposes.
Criminals also make use of email campaigns that tempt unsuspecting victims to click on malicious links or attachments, providing access to consumers' computers and emails. Once they have access to your computer and email, they can access whatever you have stored there, such as financial statements and email correspondence with your advisors and/or financial institutions. They can even install software to record all the websites accessed, including user names, passwords and security questions.
Until 2017, most financial criminal activity targeted banking institutions and credit cards. But the LIMRA Secure Retirement Institute reported in its analysis of a federal consumer survey that with more than $42 trillion in investible assets in the U.S., criminals have turned their attention to life insurance and retirement accounts, attempting to drain life insurance and retirement savings plans of the assets of unsuspecting consumers.