Identity Fraud: The Good, the Bad and the Best News for Consumers

Javelin releases latest identity fraud report; Wells Fargo protects customers’ accounts and helps prevent identify theft

SAN FRANCISCO - February 22, 2012

The number of identity fraud incidents continues to rise, according to the latest report from Javelin Strategy & Research and co-sponsored by Wells Fargo & Company (NYSE: WFC). Identity fraud is the unauthorized use of another person’s personal information to achieve illicit financial gain. Now in its ninth consecutive year, the report surveyed approximately 5,000 U.S. consumers and found that the number of identity fraud incidences increased by 13 percent in 2011, climbing to 11.6 million victims, with mobile device and social media-related fraud accounting for a large percentage of the increase.

Recognizing the role that financial institutions play in the solution, Wells Fargo continues to help its customers lower their exposure to fraudulent activity by providing resources and tools that help safeguard their identities and accounts.

“While the threat of identity theft is a top concern for consumers, there is good news,” said Robert Dudacek, senior vice president and Wells Fargo Insurance Direct Response Group manager. “The report found that the out-of-pocket costs to consumers who are victims of identity fraud have been declining. Also, more fraud victims reported that their cases were resolved in 2011, demonstrating that progress has been made in the fight to prevent and reduce fraud.”

The best news for consumers is that they continue to have the power to protect themselves against identity fraud. By working with financial institutions like Wells Fargo, and taking the appropriate steps to safeguard their personal information, they can help avoid being identity fraud victims or recognize it sooner if they happen to be victimized. According to the Javelin report, 43 percent of the victims surveyed detected fraud themselves by monitoring their accounts online at their bank and credit card websites, and setting up alerts that can be sent via e-mail and to a mobile device – proof that it’s worth the effort for consumers to be vigilant in monitoring their accounts. Using the following tips, consumers can help reduce the risk of fraud:

  • Use Electronic Monitoring – Consumers can monitor accounts and catch fraudulent activity even faster with available electronic resources. The Javelin report found a growing number of consumers detected fraudulent activity when monitoring their accounts through electronic means like online banking, mobile banking and ATMs, which provide real-time updates on account balances and transactions.
  • Consider Eliminating Paper Statements – Bank and credit card statements delivered online reduce the risk of paper mail delivery intercepts and possible fraud and identity theft.
  • Stay Alert – Consumers can use transaction and account activity notifications to quickly spot suspicious activity. Wells Fargo customers can set up fraud alerts and receive quick text notifications on their mobile phone or alerts by email 24/7.
  • Protect Your Personal Information – Social networking sites often encourage people to share information that could be used by identity thieves. Avoid sharing personal details that are often used with financial accounts and applications, such as your complete birthday, your complete home address and your mother’s maiden name. Keep your mobile and home phone numbers, and email address private. Quickly notify banks of any unauthorized transactions and account profile changes that you did not make yourself.

If a Wells Fargo customer does become a victim of fraud and their account is affected, the bank works with them to quickly resolve the situation.

  • Wells Fargo Online Guarantee - Wells Fargo guarantees that its customers will be covered for 100% of the funds in their Wells Fargo account in the unlikely event that someone the customer has not authorized removes those funds through Wells Fargo Online® or Wells Fargo Business Online®. Customers are responsible for protecting their password and account information and for providing prompt notification of an unauthorized transaction or activity. Customers can visit wellsfargo.com for more information about how our guarantee works. Mobile Banking is also covered by our Online Security Guarantee.
  • Credit Card Zero Liability – Most Wells Fargo credit cards come with Zero Liability service at no extra cost. This built-in protection means customers won’t be held responsible for any unauthorized purchases or ATM transactions, as long as they are reported promptly.
  • Identify Theft Assistance Center (ITAC) - Customers can also access the ITAC. Through its partnership with ITAC, Wells Fargo helps customers assess their situation and provides resources and guidance to resolve cases of identity theft through this ground-breaking resource.

For an additional layer of fraud protection, customers can also enroll in Wells Fargo’s identity theft protection plans. These services provide ongoing monitoring of a customer’s credit information at all three major credit bureaus to help customers manage their credit information. The service also allows customers to set up alerts and provides resolution specialists who can help resolve problems created by unauthorized use of a customer’s private identify information or credit accounts, as well as insurance to help cover costs associated with recovering from identity theft.

“We are encouraged that customers are actively partnering with us in the fight against identity theft and we will continue to provide them with the security, guidance and resources they need to protect their accounts and decrease their chances of fraud,” said Dudacek.

For more information on how to protect personal and information and reduce the risk of fraud, visit:
Wells Fargo’s Fraud Information Center:www.wellsfargo.com/privacy_security/fraud
Wells Fargo’s Online Security Guarantee Program:https://www.wellsfargo.com/privacy_security/online/guarantee
Financial Education Center:https://www.wellsfargo.com/my-financial-guide/index
Identity Theft Protection Plans:https://www.wellsfargo.com/insurance

About Wells Fargo
Wells Fargo & Company (NYSE: WFC) is a nationwide, diversified, community-based financial services company with $1.3 trillion in assets. Founded in 1852 and headquartered in San Francisco, Wells Fargo provides banking, insurance, investments, mortgage, and consumer and commercial finance through more than 9,000 stores, 12,000 ATMs, the Internet (wellsfargo.com), and other distribution channels across North America and internationally. With more than 270,000 team members, Wells Fargo serves one in three households in America. Wells Fargo & Company was ranked No. 23 on Fortune’s 2011 rankings of America’s largest corporations. Wells Fargo’s vision is to satisfy all our customers’ financial needs and help them succeed financially.

Media
Katie Ellis
(415) 222-3767