Javelin Strategy & Research has issued its 2010 report on identity fraud occurrences from 2009. Key highlights from the report show that while the instances of identity theft reached record numbers in 2009, victims spent less time and money recovering from the crime.
- 11.1 million adults were victims of identity theft in 2009
- The total fraud amount was $54 billion
- The average victim spent 21 hours and $373 out of pocket resolving the crime
- 4.8% of the population was a victim of identity fraud in 2009
- 13% of identity fraud crimes were committed by someone the victim knew
Increase in identity theft cases
According to Javelin, the number of identity fraud victims increased by 12% in 2009 and the amount of fraud increased by 12.5%. This is the highest rate of increase in the seven years that the company has been issuing the report.
New account fraud represents 39% of all 2009 fraud cases, versus 33% in 2008. Many of these fraudulent accounts were opened online. New account fraud isn’t limited to credit card accounts. Fraudulent cell phone accounts make up 29% of total new account fraud.
Existing credit cards are also highly targeted, making up 75% of fraud attacks on existing accounts.
Identity fraud resulting from data breaches
If a company you’ve done business with suffers a data breach, the thieves are most likely to steal your name, address, and other personal stored information. Thieves could use this information in a phishing attempt to get more information from you, like your bank account number or PIN. On the upside, fewer Social Security numbers were compromised in company data breaches in 2009 than in 2008.
Consumers are fighting back
Identity fraud victims were more aggressive with reporting fraud – 50% of victims filed a police report, which helped lead to arrests and convictions in identity theft cases.
Consumers spend less time resolving fraud
While the overall number of victims increased, Javelin says both the fraud costs per victim and the time required to resolve the fraud decreased. This means that consumers are spending less time and money clearing their names from fraud cases.
Continue protecting your identity
Whether you’ve been an identity theft victim in the past or not, you should continue to take steps to detect and prevent identity theft. Protecting your identity means monitoring your existing accounts and watching out for new accounts being opened in your name.
- Always read your bank and credit card statements. Report anything suspicious to your bank or credit card issuer – even a charge as little as a penny.
- Check your credit report frequently throughout the year. If you’re not monitoring your credit report, new account fraud could go undetected for months, even years.
- Follow up on calls and letters about accounts you didn’t open. These are often warning signs of identity theft.
- Shred documents that have your sensitive personal and financial information on it. Avoid carrying your Social Security card with you.
Learn to recognize the warning signs of identity theft. If you become a victim, act quickly to clear your name and to keep it from happening again.