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Identity Theft Still A Problem Despite Increased Security

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Identity theft continues to be a big problem.

A recent study showed more than 15 million Americans had personal and financial information stolen last year.

While the rise of chip-based credit cards in the United States has increased security in some instances, they have also forced con artists to change their tactics.

"There's nothing I could've done to stop it. That was the bank that let him in," said Marc Alfinez, a victim of identity fraud.

Alfinez found out that hackers had taken over his bank account last week when he got a series of email notifications that his online ID and password had been changed.

The thieves called his bank and used personal details that he believes were stolen when the office of personnel management was breached in 2015.

"They had all my pedigree information. Social security card, driver's license, wife's maiden name, all that stuff. But they couldn't pass the phone password. But since they had all that other information they still let them in," Alfinez said.

He said hackers drained his bank accounts and his children's savings accounts in under 45 minutes.

His bank, USAA told CBS News that while they can't talk about any particular case, "we have extensive security measures in place. We regret that we cannot prevent all fraud from occurring."

"Online is now the new battleground to protect consumers," said Matt Barr, Senior Vice President of Digital Payments and Labs at MasterCard.

Barr and his team are working on creating more secure technology like tokenization, which is used in mobile wallets.

It generates a unique code for each transaction - keeping a person's credit card data secret.

"It's on Apple Pay. It's on Samsung Pay. Android Pay. It's on Master Pass. So this technology, what it means is that if someone gets their hands on that scrambled card information it's useless," Barr said.

Barr says biometrics, like thumbprints and retina scans, will eventually replace passwords and make purchases more secure.

Right now, MasterCard is at work on identity check or "selfie pay," a way to checkout using your phone's camera.

As for Marc Alfinez, he's changed his phone number, passwords, and put a freeze on his credit. Over the weekend, Alfinez's bank allowed him to regain access to all of his accounts and funds.

To prevent fraud, experts recommend consumers use mobile or e-wallets, sign up for two-factor authentication with online accounts, monitor transactions, add account alerts, and be careful about how much you share on social media, and who you share it with.

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