As Cyber-Crime Surges, Expert Says ID Theft Protection Needed

2-Apr-2009 10:35 AM EDT

ID Watchdog

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Newswise — For those covering consumer stories, economic trends, and/or identity theft news, ID Watchdog, Inc. makes available company President Justin Yurek to discuss a variety of topics including:

"¢ How is an individual's "ID" record created?"¢ How prevalent is identity theft in the U.S.?"¢ Other than credit cards, what other kinds of identity theft are there?"¢ Is identity theft as significant a problem abroad as it is in the U.S.?"¢ Is there a "consumer advocate" in the identity theft space?"¢ What protection does my credit card automatically provide if someone places illegal charges on my account?"¢ How might identity theft impact my medical and criminal records and damage my ability to apply for loans, mortgages, and healthcare insurance?"¢ What everyday measures should I take to protect my identity?"¢ What steps can I take if I discover I am the victim of identity theft?"¢ If I am the victim of identity theft, what steps can I take to restore the integrity of my identity?"¢ Does a correlation exist between economic recessions and increased unemployment rates and a rise in the number of identity thefts?"¢ What should I know about the 2009 Consumer Federation of America (CFA) report on identity theft protection services?

According to the Internet Fraud Complaint Center report, U.S. Internet fraud losses reached a record high $264.6 million in 2008, with over 275,000 complaints received by the Internet Fraud Complaint Center. This figure dwarfs the $18 million in losses reported in 2001, with the trend continuing in 2009: February to March 2009 show a 50% increase in reported Internet fraud complaints in the U.S.

"These numbers are shocking, but it is important to note that the vast majority of ID theft goes unreported, so the actual threat is probably much more common than even these huge figures would lead us to believe," says Justin Yurek, President of ID Watchdog, Inc., the most comprehensive consumer identity monitoring service available. "I predict continued growth in this crime as the economy remains stagnant in this recessionary cycle."

Internet fraud includes everything from phony sales on auction and classified sites such as eBay Inc. and craigslist.com to smaller scale version of the Ponzi scheme perpetrated by disgraced New York financier Bernard Madoff. One new Internet identity theft scam involves e-mail messages that have the appearance of originating from the FBI or other federal agencies that seek the recipient's bank account information in order to help with illegal wire transfer investigations.

"This report underscores the rampant growth of identity theft across the board from not only high-tech but also low-tech sources," says Mr. Yurek. "With ever-evolving methodologies used by identity thieves, the average consumer requires a broad-based protection services to help monitor for instances of fraud."

Identity theft is now the fastest-growing crime in the United States—with nearly ten million Americans victims of some form of identity fraud each year. And, even if consumers make a conscious effort to protect their credit card information, it might be surprising to learn that fully 80% of identity theft is unrelated to credit fraud. Phone and utilities fraud, bank and loan fraud, employment and government document fraud, and medical records fraud represent perhaps even more pernicious forms of ID crime.

"A compromised identity can follow a person for years, preventing him or her from securing employment, tagging them with a criminal record, throwing them into a higher tax bracket, or worse, and the work of repairing that damage can be a bureaucratic nightmare," says Mr. Yurek. "And, while most identity theft protection services focus solely on ID monitoring, that is just half the story. As Internet fraud and identity theft crime becomes more and more prevalent, the need for a consumer advocate in this space has never been more pressing."

Expert Biography " Justin Yurek, President, ID WatchdogMr. Yurek brings to ID Watchdog a strong background in financial services and management. . Prior to starting his own company, Mr. Yurek worked at Oppenheimer Funds and American Express Financial Advisors (now Ameriprise). Before taking over as President, Mr. Yurek was ID Watchdog's Vice President of Sales. Mr. Yurek holds a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations from Tufts University.

About ID Watchdog Headquartered in Denver, ID Watchdog is the only identity theft detection and resolution company that provides patent-pending, three-tiered comprehensive monitoring, detection and resolution for identity theft. Unlike its competitors, ID Watchdog proactively detects identity theft problems at their source. Developed with the assistance of national consumer advocacy groups; the U.S. Postal Service; federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, and state and local Attorneys General, ID Watchdog's service is focused on detecting the source of identity theft problems as early as possible, in as many places as possible, and taking immediate corrective action on behalf of the consumer. For more information, please visit www.IDwatchdog.com.

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