Identity fraud rings in the U.S. target wireless companies, banks

A new study by ID Analytics found that more than 10,000 identity fraud rings exist in the U.S., many in the rural Southeast.

Identity fraud rings, which often target wireless companies and banks, are thriving in the U.S., according to a new study.

Any company that provides products and services to customers and is on the hook for it needs to watch out.

Stephen Coggeshall, CTO, ID Analytics

There are more than 10,000 identity fraud rings in the U.S., according to a report issued by San Diego-based ID Analytics. The study examined about 1.7 billion identity risk events, including more than a billion applications for bankcards, wireless services and retail credit cards; changes in personally identifiable information such as name, address, date of birth and Social Security number; and other third-party data. The data was collected in ID Analytics' ID Network from Jan. 2009 to Sept. 2012.

Fraud rings often are small groups of family, friends or both. Many focus their efforts on the bankcard, wireless and retail card industries, according to the report, titled I See Fraud Rings. The study focused on the act of individuals misrepresenting themselves in order to improperly obtain products or services.

"We do find that cell phone companies are the hardest hit," said Stephen Coggeshall, CTO of ID Analytics and author of the report in an interview with SearchSecurity.com. He added that they aren't the only types of companies that need to look out for fraud.

"Any company that provides products and services to customers and is on the hook for it needs to watch out," Coggeshall said.

Coggeshall advised companies to look into screening technology that can confirm legitimate identities.

The study also discovered that many fraud rings are located in the Southeast.

"Although fraudsters can be found anywhere in the U.S., there appears to be a 'belt of fraud' that runs through the rural Southeast, extending from Virginia to Mississippi, with significant activity in the Carolinas, Georgia, Florida and Alabama," according to the study.

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