Research Urges Public Organizations to Take Digital Security Action for Constituents

After Historic Levels of Data Compromises and Government Benefits Fraud Losses, Identity Safety is Mission-Critical

BOSTON–(BUSINESS WIRE)–A new report for the public sector from intelligent identity security firm Sontiq, a TransUnion company, highlights how public sector organizations can empower the public to reduce the identity and fraud risks they face after record levels of data comprise in 2021. By doing so, more Americans become allies in the fight against government fraud loss, which has harmed both individual identity theft victims and public programs at historic levels.

The 2022 Digital Safety and Security Report for the Public Sector points to cybercriminals’ growing use of synthetic identity fraud schemes to file fraudulent applications for lending programs or collect illicit unemployment benefits. Criminals are leveraging masses of breached personally identifiable information (PII) to mix real and fictitious information to create new fraudulent identities. Because individual components of the new identity are verifiable, the resulting fraud is more difficult to detect. The Federal Reserve cites annual synthetic identity fraud losses at more than $20 billion.

Individuals worry about how those incidents will affect them, with 62% of Americans reporting they are very or extremely concerned about attacks involving their personal information. Whether dealing with beneficiaries, program participants, students, constituents or their own employees, public sector organizations are uniquely positioned to reach and help protect them.

Public Sector Combatting Identity Theft

Walter Hoffman, vice president of public sector solutions at Sontiq, said there’s an opportunity for the public sector to help Americans safeguard their identity, credit and digital wellbeing. “The public is increasingly anxious about cyber threats, but almost half say they would not know what to do if their identity was stolen. They are looking for tools, services and partners to help them.

“Benefit programs, educational institutions, government agencies and other public sector groups are uniquely positioned to reach and help protect a large part of the population,” he adds. “At the same time, those efforts can help reduce the risk of fraud for the organization.”

The report also points to a sometimes overlooked category of identity theft victims: government employees. Research reveals that nearly 50% of cyberattacks are caused by compromised credentials. So when the personal information of these employees becomes compromised, it holds the potential to put the organization — and by extension, the public — at risk.

Cost of Public Sector Fraud

Public sector organizations lost billions in fraud in 2021. It was the second-most victimized industry sector for data breaches, with more than 3,300 reported incidents. Fraud losses reported in 2021 included:

$87 billion in unemployment benefits

$10 billion in tax fraud and financial crimes

$1.08 billion in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance

$11.9 million in refunds to victims of student debt scams

Resolving identity fraud takes both time and money — which most Americans don’t feel they have to spare. In addition to draining an estimated 600 hours and an average of $930, the emotional toll can be equally distressing. The Identity Theft Resource Center found that 54% of identity theft victims reported feeling violated and more stressed than usual.

At a time when only 24% of Americans say they can trust government officials to do the right thing, Hoffman says the public sector can benefit from programs that can help regain that trust.

“There is a real opportunity in the current climate for public institutions to become the trusted resource people need. By embedding self-service identity security into government services and the benefits packages offered to their employees, the public sector can mitigate fraud risk while building loyalty and trust in their organization.”

The full 2022 Digital Safety and Security Report for the Public Sector can be downloaded here.

About Sontiq

Sontiq (pronounced Son-tick), a TransUnion company, is an intelligent identity security company arming businesses and consumers with a full range of award-winning identity and cyber monitoring solutions, as well as best-in-class restoration and response offerings. Sontiq products empower millions of customers and organizations to be less vulnerable to the financial and emotional consequences of identity theft and cybercrimes. Sontiq has an outstanding track record for delivering high-touch support and fraud remediation services, demonstrated through its 99% customer satisfaction ratings.

About TransUnion (NYSE: TRU)

TransUnion is a global information and insights company that makes trust possible in the modern economy. We do this by providing an actionable picture of each person so they can be reliably represented in the marketplace. As a result, businesses and consumers can transact with confidence and achieve great things. We call this Information for Good®.

A leading presence in more than 30 countries across five continents, TransUnion provides solutions that help create economic opportunity, great experiences and personal empowerment for hundreds of millions of people.


Kelly Moore


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