These days, identity theft is a problem that virtually everyone needs to worry about. And for those that don’t worry about it, here are some suitably alarming statistics. According to the FBI, more than 50,000 cases of identity theft are reported in the US every year. It happens so often, in fact, that an estimated one in three Americans has already been the victim of identity theft at some point in their lives. And that’s not the worst of it.
The reality is that the problem of identity theft is getting worse—not better. But ironically, a key driver of the explosion in identity theft—AI—may also be the solution to the problem. Fraudsters, for their part, are using things like deepfakes and AI to make phishing schemes more successful and bypass biometric security measures. And the good guys are deploying AI to help them spot the telltale signs of identity theft before it can happen, giving targeted individuals a shot at protecting themselves.
One of those good guys, entrepreneur and author of the book Intelligent Safety, Hari Ravichandran, says he believes AI is the only way to fight back against the growing tide of identity theft. And he’s not only saying it—he’s betting on it. Ravichandran is also the founder and CEO of Aura, a consumer-focused anti-fraud and identity theft prevention company. They’re betting big on the power of AI, and here’s why.
Fighting Fire With Fire
There are two big challenges when it comes to spotting fraud and identity theft attempts in real time. One is the sheer scale of the data one needs to monitor. For a given individual, it’s necessary to monitor credit reports for any unusual activity, the dark web for signs of stolen passwords and identity data, open financial accounts for signs of fraudulent purchases, and countless other data points all at once, all of the time.
Then, there’s the sheer velocity with which those data points change. Even during periods of normal financial and online activity, that same given individual will leave a massive online data footprint. There’s simply no effective way for humans to watch that much data for suspicious activity when there are so many run-of-the-mill changes to that data taking place. However, AI can do just that.
According to Ravichandran, AI allows Aura to provide suspicious activity alerts to its customers as much as 250 times quicker than its competitors. With its always-on, always-watching custom AI approach, Aura can not only watch a near-limitless number of data points for signs of trouble simultaneously, but it can do something else many competitors can’t—develop individual behavioral biometrics that improve its alerting accuracy.
AI and Behavioral Biometrics
Behavioral biometrics is a blanket term that describes using a person’s behavioral patterns as a unique type of personal identification. Much like a best friend who might know if something you’ve said is out of character for you, a platform like Aura can use AI to figure out if a purchase you’ve made or an account you’ve tried to open is something you’d likely do.
The thing is, however, that behavioral biometrics can only work as a fraud and identity theft deterrent if each user’s profile is always up to date. For example, if a given user picks up a new hobby that fuels a series of purchases, the AI needs to be capable of predicting the likelihood of that behavior. Otherwise, the system would generate countless false-positive fraud alerts, which would make the system user-unfriendly.
However, AI can integrate predictive analytics and combine user behavior data from countless sources to keep behavioral biometric profiles up to date. In the above example, an AI-powered system could detect that the user made those new hobby-related purchases from a site they’re known to patronize. Or, it might detect that the purchases happened alongside other kinds of activity that do match previous behavior patterns. The result is a much more accurate way of spotting suspicious activity that may be a sign of fraud or identity theft.
The Future of Identity Theft Protection
According to Ravichandran, AI is a technology that sits at the heart of the future of identity theft protection. Its flexible capabilities and ability to adapt to changing user behaviors make it perfect for the task. He sees it as the core of Aura’s service offerings, and the perfect complement to the system’s other robust features like a built-in VPN, antivirus, password vault, and spam call protection, among others.
However, he also believes that every potential victim needs to be their own best defender by making themselves aware of the threats that now exist out there. In short, he sees human intelligence and artificial intelligence working together as the surest path to a fraud and identity-theft-free future.
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