Home > 2014 > Identity Theft

What Will Identity Theft Look Like in 2014?

Advertiser Disclosure Comments 0 Comments

At the end of every year, the Identity Theft Resource Center reviews the events in the identity theft world from the previous year and makes predictions on what the future holds for the issue. This year, we’ve changed the format of these predictions to make some bold assertions. While we don’t believe that all of these will come true right away, we want to challenge the status quo and get people thinking about what could and should be in 2014.

Changing How Identity is Defined

The definition of “identity” will evolve. Historically, we think of our identity as our personal identifying information (PII) and other tokens that we use for authentication. Our Social Security number, date of birth, driver’s license number and other pieces of information have been the cornerstone of what we believe makes up our “identity.”

However, we believe that in 2014 the definition of identity will be expanded. It must begin to encompass the other factors that are used to both identify AND authenticate an individual. “Identity” will become a three-legged stool with PII as only one of the legs. Behavior and biometrics will also become part of an individual’s total identity. Behavioral metrics have long been used for both fraud analytics and marketing purposes. We will finally realize that this also constitutes our identity. Biometrics will continue to slowly make it into the mainstream. With the release of their use on the iOS platform on iPhones, others will follow. Will consumers embrace them or shun them? We believe it will vary by generation — that Millennials will wholly embrace them as they become available, while Generations X and Y will slowly adopt the less-intrusive forms (such as airport screening because of the convenience) and the boomers will resoundingly state: ‘You can pry my biometrics from my cold dead fingers.”

Your Medical Identity: At Risk

Medical identity theft incidents will surpass all other types of identity theft except for existing credit card misuse.  This is a bold prediction, but the reality is that the thieves take the path of least resistance. And in no other area are we less equipped to combat the issue. With no central mechanism in place for remediation of medical identity theft, the ease in which thieves can victimize the same person, over and over, is increased. Once medical identity theives find a useful identity, they can keep using it for medical treatment as there is no place for consumers to place a single “alert” on their information that will stop further use. Additionally, it is still a widely unknown issue within the general consumer population, and many will have their medical identity used fraudulently without knowing it has even occurred.

Statistics Won’t Tell the Whole Story

Crime rate statistics will continue to give a false sense of security. The ITRC pointed out earlier this year that the way we measure property crimes rates is antiquated and in need of revision.  The wheels of change turn slowly in this area, and we fully believe that the crime rate statistics will again be released in the beginning of the year and they will indicate that property crime rates have either decreased or stayed relatively flat. The report that is typically referenced as the primary indicator excludes identity theft as a metric. In fact, it excludes all fraud activity, thus we will continue to believe that crime is on the decline, when the opposite is true.

Mobile Wallets Gone Global?  Not So Fast

Mobile wallets will be adopted by some, but it will be a long, long time before they become the norm and gain overwhelming popularity — if they ever do. We believe that while many folks don’t mind using their Starbucks app to pay for coffee, or storing a credit card on a specific app for payments, it will be a hard sell to get them to put ALL of their financial information in their mobile device.

This is supported by studies and surveys that show a distinct lack of consumer enthusiasm for overall adoption. In a survey conducted by Consult Hyperion in September of last year, 64% of the respondents stated they would not use a mobile wallet system. Smaller percentages said they would use a mobile wallet payment system administered by their bank, or Google (20% and 10%, respectively.)  Of course, if industry provides the proper incentives for consumers (i.e. gives them discounts and free stuff) it could reach a tipping point for younger consumers. There may be more traction in 2015, we’ll have to wait and see.

Accessibility of Fee-Based Financial Tools

Low- and moderate-income individuals will find themselves further disenfranchised as the financial system continues to grow in complexity. As more fee-based products and services enter the market (and we believe there are useful and generally legitimate services to those who can afford them) to assist individuals in this very confusing credit/loan/financial services climate, there will be no impetus to simplify the overall process for the common consumer. Individuals who cannot afford to pay for these tools, and who cannot be monetized, will be of little consequence to many in the industry. While some of the “white hat” industry leaders will do what they can to not leave these consumers in the dust, they will be less visible.

It’s the Law (or Should Be)

Federal Data Breach Notification Laws will finally be enacted. This may be more of us wishing on a star than a reality, but it is so vitally important that we take positive steps in this direction that we just have to believe significant efforts will be made, and it will finally come to pass.

Making Extra-Certain You’re You

More industries will adopt dual (and multi-) factor authentication in an effort to combat identity theft. At first seen as an inconvenience, the financial services sector has now convinced (most) of its customers that this practice is GOOD for them — and they want it. Many other industries will continue to follow suit.

Security vs. Convenience

Privacy/security versus convenience will continue to be hotly debated, but privacy will make huge progress, thanks to the negative attention generated by recent data breach incidents and governmental access to personal information. Consumers will finally start engaging in the dialogue and may begin to wonder if all that convenience is really worth it.

The Top Complaint

Identity theft will be the No. 1 complaint collected by the FTC consumer Sentinel report for the 14th year in a row.

Did we hit the bull’s-eye?  Did we miss the mark completely? Only time will tell, but we welcome your thoughts in the comments below.

More on Identity Theft:

This story is an Op/Ed contribution to Credit.com and does not necessarily represent the views of the company or its affiliates.

Image: Zoonar RF

Comments on articles and responses to those comments are not provided or commissioned by a bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by a bank advertiser. It is not a bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Please note that our comments are moderated, so it may take a little time before you see them on the page. Thanks for your patience.

Certain credit cards and other financial products mentioned in this and other articles on Credit.com News & Advice may also be offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com will be compensated if our users apply for and ultimately sign up for any of these cards or products. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment.

Hello, Reader!

Thanks for checking out Credit.com. We hope you find the site and the journalism we produce useful. We wanted to take some time to tell you a bit about ourselves.

Our People

The Credit.com editorial team is staffed by a team of editors and reporters, each with many years of financial reporting experience. We’ve worked for places like the New York Times, American Banker, Frontline, TheStreet.com, Business Insider, ABC News, NBC News, CNBC and many others. We also employ a few freelancers and more than 50 contributors (these are typically subject matter experts from the worlds of finance, academia, politics, business and elsewhere).

Our Reporting

We take great pains to ensure that the articles, video and graphics you see on Credit.com are thoroughly reported and fact-checked. Each story is read by two separate editors, and we adhere to the highest editorial standards. We’re not perfect, however, and if you see something that you think is wrong, please email us at editorial team [at] credit [dot] com,

The Credit.com editorial team is committed to providing our readers and viewers with sound, well-reported and understandable information designed to inform and empower. We won’t tell you what to do. We will, however, do our best to explain the consequences of various actions, thereby arming you with the information you need to make decisions that are in your best interests. We also write about things relating to money and finance we think are interesting and want to share.

In addition to appearing on Credit.com, our articles are syndicated to dozens of other news sites. We have more than 100 partners, including MSN, ABC News, CBS News, Yahoo, Marketwatch, Scripps, Money Magazine and many others. This network operates similarly to the Associated Press or Reuters, except we focus almost exclusively on issues relating to personal finance. These are not advertorial or paid placements, rather we provide these articles to our partners in most cases for free. These relationships create more awareness of Credit.com in general and they result in more traffic to us as well.

Our Business Model

Credit.com’s journalism is largely supported by an e-commerce business model. Rather than rely on revenue from display ad impressions, Credit.com maintains a financial marketplace separate from its editorial pages. When someone navigates to those pages, and applies for a credit card, for example, Credit.com will get paid what is essentially a finder’s fee if that person ends up getting the card. That doesn’t mean, however, that our editorial decisions are informed by the products available in our marketplace. The editorial team chooses what to write about and how to write about it independently of the decisions and priorities of the business side of the company. In fact, we maintain a strict and important firewall between the editorial and business departments. Our mission as journalists is to serve the reader, not the advertiser. In that sense, we are no different from any other news organization that is supported by ad revenue.

Visitors to Credit.com are also able to register for a free Credit.com account, which gives them access to a tool called The Credit Report Card. This tool provides users with two free credit scores and a breakdown of the information in their Experian credit report, updated twice monthly. Again, this tool is entirely free, and we mention that frequently in our articles, because we think that it’s a good thing for users to have access to data like this. Separate from its educational value, there is also a business angle to the Credit Report Card. Registered users can be matched with products and services for which they are most likely to qualify. In other words, if you register and you find that your credit is less than stellar, Credit.com won’t recommend a high-end platinum credit card that requires an excellent credit score You’d likely get rejected, and that’s no good for you or Credit.com. You’d be no closer to getting a product you need, there’d be a wasted inquiry on your credit report, and Credit.com wouldn’t get paid. These are essentially what are commonly referred to as "targeted ads" in the world of the Internet. Despite all of this, however, even if you never apply for any product, the Credit Report Card will remain free, and none of this will impact how the editorial team reports on credit and credit scores.

Our Owners

Credit.com is owned by Progrexion Holdings Inc. which is the owner and administrator of a number of business related to credit and credit repair, including CreditRepair.com, and eFolks. In addition, Progrexion also provides services to Lexington Law Firm as a third party provider. Despite being owned by Progrexion, it is not the role of the Credit.com editorial team to advocate the use of the company’s other services. In articles, reporters may mention credit repair as an option, for example, but we’ll also be sure to note the various alternatives to that service. Furthermore, you may see ads for credit repair services on Credit.com, but the editorial team isn’t responsible for the creation or implementation of those ads, anymore than reporters for the New York Times or Washington Post are responsible for the ads on their sites.

Your Stories

Lastly, much of what we do is informed by our own experiences as well as the experiences of our readers. We want to tell your stories if you’re interested in sharing them. Please email us at story ideas [at] credit [dot] com with ideas or visit us on Facebook or Twitter.

Thanks for stopping by.

- The Credit.com Editorial Team