In the United States, all states have websites to match unclaimed property to its rightful owners. Trusts to banks, insurance and even wages—there are numerous ways people can have unclaimed property. The states strive to provide as much information as possible to assure that the correct person is found and not the one across the city or even the state. In order to do this, personally identifying information is included. While this is crucial to match people with the money that they are owed, it can put citizens at risk for identity theft.
All of this personal information is out there, but are people aware? If people are unaware that they have unclaimed money, then he or she is most likely not looking for it. Therefore, all of the personally identifying information is just out there on the web available for everyone to see, including fraudsters who can get a mass amount of information on people quickly.
The states differ in how much information they provide, some give a minimal amount of information, while others provide name, address, zip code, the amount of money and the company or organization that owes the money. Fraudsters can then try to claim the money themselves and if they go even further, it is possible that he or she can try to hack into a person’s additional accounts.
Some citizens may be troubled by the vast amount of information available. As an example, a claim in the state of Indiana had an individual’s name, address, amount owed and the name of the company, which is a car brand. A fraudster can then know where the person lives and what brand of car he or she drives with the click of a button. This is concerning for their online finances, but can also affect their safety.
To prevent people from becoming victims of fraudsters, it is necessary for the government and the websites that provide this information to use, Knowledge Based Information (KBA), just as companies do for verification purposes. General information such as name, state and even city can be provided, but then the person would then have to answer personally identifying information that only he or she would know. Then the correct person will be found, money will be claimed and information will remain out of the hands of fraudsters. EVS offers KBA in its consumer verification services.