Social media and mobile devices may be putting consumers at greater risk for identity fraud, according to a Feb. 22 report on identity fraud.
More than 11.6 million adults were a victim of identity fraud in the United States in 2011, an increase of 13 percent since 2010, according to the Javelin Strategy and Research report. About 7 percent of smartphone users were victims of identity fraud, in contrast to the 4.9 percent fraud rate among the general population, according to the 2012 Identify Fraud Report.
Smartphone owners are not protecting their devices, which exposes them to fraud, according to Javelin. Around 62 percent said they don't use a password or a pin code to lock their devices. About 32 percent admitted to saving log-in information on their devices.
Social media and mobile behaviors made users more vulnerable to fraud, according to the report. Users of social networking services, such as LinkedIn, Google+, Facebook and Twitter, had the highest incidence of fraud. Consumers who actively engage with social media and use a smartphone were found to have a disproportionate rate of identity fraud than consumers who do not use in these services.
LinkedIn users were more than twice as likely to have reported being a victim, and users who regularly checked in to services using GPS-enabled location data reported fraud rates that were more than double the average rate among the general population.
However, while the numbers are interesting, there is no "proof of direct causation" at this time, according to the report.
Significant amounts of personal information that are often used to authenticate users online were freely shared online, Javelin researchers found. Birthdays are one such example, and 68 percent of the people in Javelin's survey shared the date online. About 45 percent shared the birth year, as well. Name of the high school attended and the name of a pet are common security questions for online services. About 63 percent of the respondents listed the high school on their public profiles and 12 percent posted pet names.
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