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Identity theft sees serious increase in MX

Theft reports are up 600% in four years, says Condusef

Identity theft has soared 600% in the last four years and the trend doesn’t appear to be slowing.

The consumer protection agency Condusef received 4,564 identity theft complaints in the first half of 2011. During the same period last year, the figure jumped to 28,258.

In Mexico City, the complaints were up 57% between 2014 and 2015, going from 1,365 cases to 2,125, according to city officials.

For victims, last year’s figures represent a total loss of 118 million pesos (US $7.51 million), a 19% increase on the reported losses for 2014. The average amount stolen during the first half of 2015 was 4,200 pesos.

Condusef, officially the Commission for the Protection and Defense of Financial Services Users, said it resolved six out of 10 of the complaints it received, and banking institutions in turn credited 60 million pesos to the victims, representing 58% of the total stolen.

One victim who has had no success in obtaining a credit is a Canadian citizen who experienced a variant on identity theft in the city of Guanajuato.

In May last year Karen Turner made a 10,000-peso withdrawal from an ATM at a local branch of Bancomer, but no funds were dispensed. However, the amount was taken out of her Canadian bank account.

Turner says that holders of Mexico-based accounts who were in line behind her were able to withdraw cash without any trouble, and concluded that perhaps foreign accounts were the ones being targeted.

Turner told Mexico News Daily this week that she has received no satisfaction from either the bank or Condusef. A lawyer working for the bank suggested she sue. Her own bank told her that as far as Bancomer was concerned, Turner had received the money.

She said Bancomer advised her that the bank was only an administrative entity and could not investigate fraud claims. “Why then do they have a fraud department?” she wondered.

“Foreigners beware!” Turner warned.

Thieves often install equipment in ATM’s to capture information from cards, but pickpocketing is probably more common. Wallets or purses and cell phones are stolen on public transit or in high-traffic areas.

Condusef warns consumers to check their accounts periodically to ensure there has been no suspicious activity.

To address identity theft financial authorities have collaborated with the Banks of Mexico Association (ABM) in the creation of a personal data verification system which cross-references data with the National Electoral Institute’s database.

Despite this first step, the ABM believes that more protections should be put in place if identity theft is to be curbed, such as the creation of a biometric identity card.

Source: Reforma (sp)

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