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"Identity Fraud Hits Record Number of Americans in 2016."

Identity thieves, who commit financial fraud with stolen account information, had a banner year in 2016. These fraudsters successfully hit a record 15.4 million Americans — up 16 percent from 2015, according to the new 2017 Identity Fraud Study from Javelin Strategy & Research.

Despite widespread efforts to fight this crime wave, the crooks successfully netted two million more victims and stole $16 billion dollars, a nearly billion dollar year-to-year increase. And remember, we all pay for that loss in the form of higher prices and interest rates.

“The criminals are getting better at committing this fraud,” said Al Pascual, research director and head of fraud and security at Javelin Strategy & Research. “They learn and they adapt and they find workarounds to the solutions we put in place.”
A Huge Increase in Internet Fraud

Another big change in the fraud landscape is the significant increase in card-not-present (CNP) fraud that took place last year, as criminals used stolen credit and debit card numbers to buy things online or over the phone. CNP fraud jumped 40 percent, while point-of-sale fraud remained essentially unchanged.

Clearly, ID thieves are moving online as the continued adoption of chip-based EMV cards — which are nearly impossible to counterfeit — makes fraud at the checkout counter more difficult.

“We think of stopping fraud like squeezing Jell-O — when you stop it one place, it squirts out someplace else,” said Stephen Coggeshall, chief analytics and science officer at Lifelock, which sponsored the Javelin study. “These fraudsters are pretty smart and they continue to look for the weakest points of attack.”

Fraud experts predicted this — that EMV cards would drive criminals to use stolen credit card numbers online. It’s what happened when chip-based cards were introduced in other parts of the world.

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