Identity theft is the easiest crime to commit and the hardest crime to get caught for. It has been said numerous times that identity theft is the closest we’ve ever come to the perfect crime. This explains why a recent study by ID Analytics found more than 10,000 identity fraud rings in the U.S. An identity fraud ring is a group of people actively collaborating to commit identity fraud. This study is the first to investigate the interconnections of identity manipulators and identity fraudsters to identify rings of criminals working in collaboration.
In a press release, ID Analytics states that many of these fraud rings are made up of two or more career criminals, surprisingly, others are family members or groups of friends. The ring members may be either stealing victims’ identities or improperly sharing and manipulating personal identifying information such as dates-of-birth (DOB) and Social Security numbers (SSNs) on applications for credit and services.
Other findings of the study include:
Hotbeds for Fraud Rings—States with the highest numbers of fraud rings include Alabama, the Carolinas, Delaware, Georgia, Mississippi and Texas. The three-digit ZIP codes with the most fraud rings observed are areas around Washington DC; Tampa, Fla.; Greenville, Miss.; Macon, Ga.; Detroit; and Montgomery, Ala.
Fraud in the Countryside—While many fraud rings occur in cities, a surprisingly high number were also found in rural areas of the country.
Consumers’ best protection against identity theft begins with a credit freeze or identity theft protection. But businesses can do more to protect the public by not allowing stolen credentials to be used for fraud in the first place.
Identity thieves carry out their attacks in very short-time windows to exploit their newly stolen credentials. For businesses, what might typically look like a single transaction can often be calculated attacks across multiple businesses, according Oregon-based iovation Inc. and the businesses that it protects. One computer (or a group of related Internet-enabled devices including smartphones) may open new credit card accounts, make online retail purchases, and schedule shipment of stolen goods — yet iovation’s view of device-related activity can connect these relationships across multiple businesses, geographies and industries — in order to detect and stop cybercrime, and make the Internet a safer place to interact and do business.