Pandemic Vigilance May Translate to Greater Demand for Identity Protection

Published: August 20, 2021 by Joe Talbott

A global pandemic has made Americans more mindful of their families’ well-being than ever, and the vigilance it instilled shows every sign of extending to financial wellness as well as physical health.

The pandemic brought greater awareness of identity theft and other forms of financial fraud, coupled with greater global demand than ever for identity theft protection services.

It’s no coincidence that the pandemic inspired concern over long-term financial well-being. The pandemic brought major financial uncertainty to many families, with declines in income from work furloughs and layoffs, worries about incurring new debt to cover household expenses, and concern over making payments on mortgages, credit cards, and other debts.

What’s more, even as families grasped for information on protecting themselves and loved ones from COVID-19, they received a steady stream of warnings about a secondary blight rising from the chaos of the first. Authorities warned that criminals, eager to exploit fear and confusion, were unleashing a host of pandemic-related scams.

  • The FBI warned Americans to watch for bogus unemployment claims, phony services promising paid vaccines, and even false offers of pandemic-related debt relief from fraudsters posing as credit card issuers and mortgage lenders.1
  • Reports of identity theft at the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) I IdentityTheft.gov website nearly doubled from 2019 to 1.4 million complaints.2
  • American consumers lost $56 billion to identity fraud in 2020, largely fueled by growth in scams devised to trick consumers into divulging personal information, according to industry Javelin Strategy, a research firm specializing in the financial services industry.3

The surge in identity-related criminal schemes underscores the vulnerability of personal-identifying information, including Social Security numbers, account numbers and passwords, and even home addresses and dates of birth.

Identity-theft scammers attempt to collect this information by posing as trusted companies or government agencies, with overtures issued using text messages, emails, phone calls and even social media and the videoconferencing services that became commonplace during the pandemic lockdown. Identity thieves and other fraudsters may then use stolen personal data to apply for government services and benefits, or to open fraudulent credit cards accounts, loans, and bank accounts.

The surge of pandemic-related identity fraud coincided with growing awareness of and appetite for identity theft protection services:

  • According to global industrial-research company IBISWorld, the size of the market for Identity Theft Protection Services in the US reached an all-time high of $3.2 billion in 2021.
  • The market for these services grew at an average yearly rate of 2.1% from 2016 to 2021. That’s a faster clip than the overall economy enjoyed in the same period and even a faster growth rate than was seen in the technology sector overall.

Consumer demand for identity theft protection reflects a fundamental human need for security and peace of mind. It also gives financial institutions and financial services companies a chance to help fulfill that need. Experian Partner Solutions can help companies of any size integrate identity protection services into their smartphone apps or websites to generate more engagement and customer loyalty.

Identity theft protection services available through Experian Partner Solutions include:

  • Social Security number monitoring, which reports all names and aliases associated with a given Social Security number and issues alerts if new names are added.
  • Real-Time Identity Alerts notifies users immediately if personal information is used in an authentication transaction, including to process a credit application or verify someone’s identity.
  • Experian’s patented CyberAgent® technology detects stolen personal information online on an international level, including the hidden Dark Web used for many criminal transactions.
  • Identity Theft Insurance offers up to $1 Million in coverage that could help replace stolen funds linked to unauthorized electronic transfers, lost wages and more.

Enhancing customers’ financial wellness with world-class identity protection for individuals, couples, or entire families can be good business and a truly great service. Find out more about Experian Partner Solutions Identity Protection offering by visiting https://www.experian.com/partner-solutions/ .

[1] FBI Urges Vigilance During COVID-19 Pandemic https://www.fbi.gov/coronavirus

[2] “New Data Shows FTC Received 2.2 Million Fraud Reports from Consumers in 2020” (Press release). https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/press-releases/2021/02/new-data-shows-ftc-received-2-2-million-fraud-reports-consumers

[3] “2021 Identity Fraud Study: Shifting Angles” https://www.javelinstrategy.com/content/Javelin-2021-Identity-Fraud-Study

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