Financial fraud is a known risk that may serve as a predicate criminal offense for money laundering activities; however, the topic may not always receive its due within the anti-money laundering community. The recent hack,1 data breach and theft of over 140 million U.S. consumers’ and over 15 million U.K. consumers’ records from Equifax,2 one of the three major U.S. credit bureaus, is an extreme example of the negative consequences that can result when weak or deficient internal control environments that maintain consumers’ personal identifiable information (PII) are exploited by criminals. Companies and agencies entrusted to secure such information are under increased and overdue pressure from government officials and the public at large to protect this data more responsibly. The elderly, whose consumer credit histories are well established, and teens/young adults, whose credit histories are “unspoiled,” are often prime targets for consumer identity theft, a form of fraud, which thrives on the abuse of stolen PII. The inherent value of stolen PII on the criminal black market is almost immeasurable, as such information can be readily purchased, traded, stored and misused by any number of individuals at a future time for criminal purposes. In the case of PII stolen from younger individuals, in theory this could mean a lifetime of potential exposure to identity theft risk. Unfortunately, despite the increased ease and sophistication of computer hacking, financial fraud and identity theft schemes designed to target PII, consumer education on these topics may receive only general coverage as part of a typical high school’s curriculum.
The Young Adult’s Guide to Identity Theft, by Myra Faye Turner, is a new and timely publication that attempts to educate young consumers on the history, risks and preventive measures to consider in the modern era. The author offers a “primer” introduction on fraud topics, is written in simple terms to cover complex issues and walks the reader through the “basics” of identity theft, common online risks and scams, and the history and importance of credit. The author also covers common fraud schemes such as advance fee (“Nigerian”), charity, and employment scams and provides some standard recommendations for self-protection against these risks as well as practical steps to protect one’s PII. This book is a great read for both parents and their high school age children alike—especially young adults who are preparing for or currently attending college as undergraduate students. It is critical more than ever that the next generation is prepared to manage their personal finances against fraud and identity theft. Hopefully, readers of the Young Adult’s Guide to Identity Theft will develop both increased fraud awareness and motivation to apply sound personal strategies to minimize the threats posed by fraud and identity theft.
Brian Arrington, MBA, CAMS, communications director of the ACAMS Chicago Chapter, Chicago, IL, USA, firstname.lastname@example.org
Disclaimer: The views expressed here are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of his current, former, or future employers or any organization with which he is associated.
The Young Adult’s Guide to Identity Theft is available to order on Amazon.
- KrebsonSecurity, “Equifax Hackers Stole Info on 693,665 U.K. Residents,” October 10, 2017, https://krebsonsecurity.com/2017/10/equifax-hackers-stole-info-on-693665-uk-residents/
- Adam Shell, “Equifax Data Breach Could Create Lifelong Identity Theft Threat,” USA Today, September 9, 2017, https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2017/09/09/equifax-data-breach-could-create-life-long-identity-theft-threat/646765001/