Credit card fraud is Americans number one concern

Identity theft Expert Robert Siciliano

A recent study conducted by the Unisys Corporation shows that identity theft as it pertains to credit card fraud is Americans’ number one concern.

When people ask me, “How do I protect myself from credit card fraud?” I tell them, “Cancel the card, or never use it.” Because that’s the only way.

Personal security (as it pertains to violence) and national security have always been a concern. However, this new study shows that people are more concerned with fraud, and the risk of having their savings depleted by scammers. Not so hard to believe, what with the number of data breaches, and the Madoffs of the world fleecing their unsuspecting investors.

75% of Americans feel that the recession has increased their chances of being victimized by criminal hackers and thieves. Most are also concerned their “private” information on a corporate or bank network may be compromised.

FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center’s 2008 Annual Report determined that online fraud increased by 33.1% last year. Dollar losses resulting from online fraud increased to $265 million.

Overall, these concerns are valid, due to flaws in the system of issuing credit that facilitate new account fraud. Furthermore, account takeover requires nothing more than access to credit card numbers, which are available in hacked databases or susceptible every time you hand your card over to a gas station attendant.

Viruses in spam or phishing emails continue to plague consumers and as scammers get more sophisticated, the chances of getting hooked increase.

Banks and business will continue to feel the pressure as criminals target their clients’ data.

Credit card skimming at ATMs and gas pumps makes it impossible to protect yourself when you could essentially be handing your digits over to a criminal.

Skimming is one of the financial industry’s fastest-growing crimes, according to the U.S. Secret Service. The worldwide ATM Industry Association reports over $1 billion in annual global losses from credit card fraud and electronic crime associated with ATMs.

Marite Ferrero, a blogger with Finextra, adds, “In Europe, the points of compromise are everywhere: ATM, gas pumps, parking, DVD rentals, movie tickets, food kiosks, tolls, buying metro tickets, and the list goes on… Because of chip and pin implementation, the proliferation of stand-alone terminals that accept chip and pin has provided a profitable playground for fraudsters.”

While the card holder is generally only responsible for the first $50.00 in losses, which is often waived by a “zero liability policy,” card holders who don’t pay attention to their statements often let these charges pass and eat them.

There are many technologies available to secure credit cards, such as “smart cards” and “chip and pin.” However, due to the nature of a credit card transaction, once the data leaves the card, it’s up for grabs. Whatever card security their may have been is now gone.

Check your credit and banking statements carefully. Scrutinize every charge and refute any unauthorized charges within 30-60 days. Call your bank or credit card company immediately if you see any fraudulent activity.

Invest in identity theft protection. Credit freezes or fraud alerts help prevent new account fraud. Protect your PC with McAfee, or other Internet security software.

Robert Siciliano, identity theft speaker, discusses credit card fraud.

I’m excited to work with uni-ball in 2009 in a partnership to help raise awareness about the growing threat of identity theft and provide tips for protecting yourself. Check out for more information.

Identity Theft: Federal Task Force Provides Good Recommendations Too Late—Identity Theft Expert and Speaker on Personal Security

(BOSTON, Mass. – May 7, 2007 – In late April, the Federal Identity Theft Task Force, formed last year to investigate this crime, released findings and recommendations. According to Robert Siciliano, a widely televised and quoted personal security and identity theft expert, the announcement was one more example of government bureaucracy seemingly unable to counter identity theft in a timely manner.

“Identity theft happens fast,” said Siciliano. “Ask anyone who’s been a victim. A year’s time at the mercy of an identity thief could mean a life’s savings gone. While we need government intervention to stop identity theft, we also need it to happen on identity theft’s timetable, not a bureaucracy’s.”

CEO of and a member of the Bank Fraud & IT Security Report’s editorial board, Siciliano leads Fortune 500 companies and their clients in workshops that explore consumer education solutions for security issues. A longtime identity theft speaker and author of “The Safety Minute: 01,” he has discussed data security and consumer protection on CNBC, on NBC’s “Today Show,” FOX News, and elsewhere.

On April 23, President Bush’s Federal Identity Theft Task Force, led by Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and Federal Trade Commission Chairman Deborah Platt Majoras, announced its recommendations. The 190-page report addressed a wide spectrum of data and computer crime and its effects, calling for tougher laws against some identity theft–related crimes; longer prison sentences, in some cases, for those who steal electronic data; and improved monetary compensation for victims of identity theft.

One recommendation of note calls for the development of a federal law to supersede state laws that currently require data brokers, or any company, to inform the public when data breaches of certain magnitudes occurs. Thirty-five states already have such laws. One notable example is California’s SB 1386, which compelled ChoicePoint, Inc. to report a massive data breach in early 2005.

On April 20, reported the on the activities of security industry lobbyists, the Cyber Security Industry Alliance, who have claimed that a preponderance of differing state laws makes data breach reporting costly to manage. The group has called for a simplification and nationalization of these requirements.

Although the report addressed these, and many of the other, issues Siciliano champions, he said government works too slowly to combat identity theft.

“Work to complete this report began nearly a year ago,” said Siciliano. “And now it will probably go through another year’s worth, at least, of committee hearings and debates in Congress before anything even remotely resembling it becomes law. In the meantime, thousands, maybe millions, of U.S. citizens have, or will have, fallen prey to identity thieves. A meaningful response to identity theft demands law enforcement initiatives rooted in law. But the system that gets us there is unable to get us there quickly enough.”

Recently, Siciliano appeared on CNBC to discuss credit and debit card scams. Readers may view his appearance here.


Identity theft affects us all. Robert Siciliano, CEO of and member of the Bank Fraud & IT Security Report’s editorial board, makes it his mission to provide consumer education solutions on identity theft to Fortune 500 companies and their clients.

A leader of personal safety and security seminars nationwide, Siciliano has been featured on CNN, MSNBC, CNBC, “FOX News,” NBC’s “Today Show,” “The Suze Orman Show,” “The Montel Williams Show,” “Maury Povich,” “Sally Jesse Raphael,” “The Howard Stern Show,” and “Inside Edition.” The Privacy Learning Institute features him on its Website. Numerous magazines, print news outlets, and wire services have turned to him, as well, for expert commentary on personal security and identity theft. These include Entrepreneur, Woman’s Day, Mademoiselle, Good Housekeeping, The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Washington Times, The Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, United Press International, Reuters, and others.

Visit Siciliano’s Web site,; blog,; and YouTube page,

The media are encouraged to get in touch with Siciliano directly:

Robert Siciliano
Personal Security Expert
PHONE: 888-SICILIANO (742-4542)
FAX: 877-2-FAX-NOW (232-9669)

The media may also contact:

Brent W. Skinner, President
PHONE: 617-875-4859
FAX: 866-663-6557