Identity theft cases up nearly 200% in Maryland and Virginia

Identity theft is on the rise, with Maryland and Virginia residents being heavily targeted by scammers, according to the CEO of an identity validation company.

“I would say if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is,” said Bryan Lewis, CEO of Intellicheck, a company providing identity validation and fraud detection services.

Lewis said the number of identity theft cases in the area that the Federal Trade Commission has collected has risen dramatically since the start of the pandemic.

“In Maryland it’s up 188%, in Virginia it’s up 194%,” Lewis said.

Lewis said a lot of recent identity theft cases come from scammers subtly impersonating legitimate institutions such as banks, government agencies or credit card issuers. He also said scammers want their victims to feel pressured, so they’ll use tactics that will make people feel rushed. Lewis recommends that people take their time.

As inflation continues to plague the economy, many are looking for deals, and that’s what could cost them, according to Lewis. Scammers are looking to prey on vulnerable consumers who are looking to save some cash, Lewis said.

“Credit card rates, rental rates, student loan rates — and they’re going to have people say ‘wow, I need to jump on that,’” he said.

Lewis said lots of scammers will directly reach out to consumers. He said its important to verify the sender, which can clue consumers into whether they are dealing with a scammer or a legitimate seller.

He advises consumers to “look and see that the address that the email came from is real, or the website you’re directed to is real.”

Anna-Lysa Gayle

Anna-Lysa Gayle is an award-winning reporter and anchor, with five Emmy awards and more. Before joining WTOP, she spent nearly a decade as a TV news reporter for ABC and CBS news affiliates.

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