Growing Trends in Cyber Crime and Identity Theft

February 18, 2022

Catherine Rudow, Vice President of Cyber Insurance, Nationwide

Illustrations of thieves dressed in black, stealing important information from a computer.According to a recent Agency Forward Survey¹:

  • 47% of consumers are concerned about cyberattacks
  • 68% of agents feel that consumers are less prepared for a cyberattack than they think
  • Less than 20% of consumers have cyber insurance protection
    • 36% of consumers don’t know enough about cyber insurance protection
    • 32% didn’t even know personal cyber insurance was available
    • 14% of consumers have experienced a cyberattack, and for 30% of them it impacted or jeopardized their finances

A cyberattack is defined as an attempt to steal, expose, alter, disable or destroy information through unauthorized access to a computer system.

Cyberattack examples include, but are not limited to:

  • Identity theft and fraud
  • Extortion with the use of ransomware
  • Exploiting compromised usernames and passwords
  • Phishing, smishing, or vishing attacks

How can you help protect your clients?

Increase their awareness – it can happen to them!

Currently 8 in 10 agents say that many of their clients are unsure of how they are exposed to cybersecurity losses, what cyber services are available as part of an ID Theft insurance policy, or that they underestimate the threat.

Here are some conversation starters to help increase awareness and educate your customers about their exposure to cybercrimes:

  • Asking a customer if they (or someone they know) has ever been the victim of ID theft, fraud or a scam? How did it impact them and/or how did they resolve it?
  • Would they know what to do it they were a victim of ID theft, fraud or s scam? Often times we find that consumers either do nothing or very little at the first signs of fraud and this can end up resulting in a very complex mess for them to later resolve.
  • Point out how many of the other things that consumers often insure/protect which can be replaced, but their identity is really worth protecting as well

Tips for Taking Care of Your Digital Self

Educate

The bulk of the losses in 2020, $43 billion, stemmed from identity theft scams where criminals interact directly with consumers to steal their information. Victims of these scams lost $1,100 on average, according to a recent article from CNBC².

With the COVID-19 pandemic changing the way people shopped and transferred money, many criminals targeted digital wallet and payment methods such as Apple Pay and Zelle. About 18 million consumers were victims from scams through these digital payment methods in 2020³.

“The culture of fraud is clearly shifting. The pandemic has created so many more points of vulnerability for families and businesses,” says Paige Schaffer, CEO of global identity and cyber protection services at Generali Global Assistance4.

Here are some common digital fraud methods consumers can watch for5:

  1. Unsolicited calls or emails: technology has made it easier than ever for scammers to impersonate anyone, from government agencies to relatives. In order to protect themselves, most experts recommend that consumers avoid picking up any calls from unfamiliar phone numbers. Instead, let them roll into voicemail for further scrutiny.
  2. High-pressure tactics: Another way to tell that a call or message is from a scammer is if they say that they need sensitive information right away. It’s usually a red flag if something needs to be done immediately or if there are threats that your clients will lose money if immediate action is not taken.
  3. Outdated passwords: Many identity theft scams are done by criminals who have obtained log-in information from data breaches that have occurred within the past few years.

Regularly updating passwords can help prevent unauthorized access to your customer’s accounts. And they shouldn’t use the same password across all of their accounts – create something new for each one.

Offer Them Solutions

For added assurance and peace of mind, you may discuss considering identity theft insurance or other identity protection services with your clients. Understanding the options that are commonly included (everything from “lost wallet protection” to “black market website surveillance) and what they may cover can help your customer decide which plan best suits their needs6.

Nationwide can help, offering both cyber and identity theft protection services

Nationwide’s Identity Theft Protection Program

Nationwide’s Identity Theft protections is there to back them up if a client becomes a victim to identify theft. Nationwide will reimburse up to $25,000² for covered out-of-pocket expenses and provide access to a team of Resolution and Cyber Risk Specialist3 to help:

  • Obtain the list of their creditors and contact them with separate itemized fraudulent account statements for each fraudulent occurrence
  • Report fraudulent activity to local authorities and forward a report to their creditors.
  • Stop damage to their credit within minutes of authorization by directly contacting major credit bureaus to place fraud alerts.
  • Report the identity theft to the Federal Trade Commission
  • Assist your client in replacing documents include driver’s license, passport, social security including driver’s license, passport, social security card or other identification
  • Provide foreign language translation whenever necessary (e.g. If someone is overseas and need help to communicate with local police in order to file a report).
  • Provide an emergency cash advance if identity theft occurs while away from home (restrictions and limits apply).
  • Help them untangle the consequences of medical ID theft.
  • Review credit and non-credit related records with your client to determine the extent of damage that has been incurred.
  • Provide your customer with ongoing monitoring and alerts of fraudulent activity associated with their name, address, social security number and date of birth.

In addition to the coverages, customers also have full access to a comprehensive suite of services, including the following:

Online Data Protection

  • Anti-Ransomware – Monitors all attempts at encryption activity and protects their emails, photographs, spreadsheets, and other files from being encrypted and held for ransom.
  • DataScrambler® – Protects customers from spyware that attempts to steal confidential information log their keystrokes, and access their computer’s built-in webcam
  • PhishBlock® – Detects malicious websites designed to steal their information by using proactive and customized antiphishing technology

Personal Cyber Protection Advice & Guidance

  • Our dedicated team of cyber risks specialists are available to assist with any concerns or questions about keeping your customers safe online.
  • Phone support to answer questions on best practices, review attempts of device compromises such as spam emails, and suggestions on prevention
  • Educational articles on security topics such as home network, email online browsing, unsecured Wi-Fi hotspot usage and backup & restore.

Data recovery

  • Updating and upgrading of operating system (OS) patches related to security vulnerabilities in PC and mobile devices
  • Assistance in device restoration to a working state, including OS reinstallations or device reset
  • Assistance with setup or regular backup to a preferred solution to ensure optimal availability in the event of loss

Device cleanup

  • Updating and upgrading of OS patches related security vulnerabilities
  • Scanning and removal of infections such as virus, malware, adware, etc. where possible
  • Device tune-up to improve performance and operability

Home internet security restoration

If a client is a victim of a cyberattack, our dedicated team of specialist will work to restore their home’s internet connection and internet-connected devices and re-secure home infrastructure including:

  • Identification and troubleshooting internet service to confirm issue and repair any connectivity operating system (OS) or configuration issues on devices
  • Advice on resolution steps if the issues are outside of the home environment
  • Optimization of Wi-Fi for connected devices in the home environment
  • Troubleshooting research and repair of their router or connected devices, ensuring that their router is updated to the latest OS and firmware
  • Providing information and answering questions on best practices to secure their home network

Cyberattacks can result in a significant loss of time and money— not to mention lasting emotional effects. Your clients need to be aware that this can happen to them and could have major impacts. Nationwide’s Cybersecurity and Identity Theft Protection services can help offer them peace of mind, as well as valuable services to help both prevent cyber and identity theft crimes and recover their data and identity.


Citations/Disclaimers

Must be combined with a Nationwide auto, home, renters, condo or RV policy

¹Monitoring, portal, resolution assistance services, and personal cyber protection services provided by Generali Global Assistance. There is no additional charge for these monitoring and portal services for up to two adult members of the household and enrollment is optional. Charges apply for additional household members.
²Must be combined with a Nationwide auto, home, renters, condo or RV policy
³Monitoring, portal, resolution assistance services, and personal cyber protection services provided by Generali Global Assistance. There is no additional charge for these monitoring and portal services for up to two adult members of the household and enrollment is optional. Charges apply for additional household members.

Sources

¹Nationwide Agent Authority Survey 2020, https://agentblog.nationwide.com/agency-growth/sales/cyber-attack-prevention/
²Customers lost $56 billion to identity fraud last year—here’s what to look out for https://www.cnbc.com/2021/03/23/consumers-lost-56-billiondollars-to-identity-fraud-last-year.html
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Cover of the 2022 Issue 1 Smart Choice Magazine titled "Cyber-Security: More Important Now than Ever!"Cyber-Security: More Important Now Than Ever!

In this business, we handle so much sensitive personal and private financial consumer information that we have to be vigilant about staying on top of cyber security. From phishing attempts to identity theft to ransomware attacks — everyone is a viable target and should be prepared. Check out the 2022 Issue 1 of Smart Choice Magazine for tips on protecting yourself and your clients from cyber threats.

Read the Magazine