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8.3 million Americans were ID theft victims in 05
WASHINGTON (11/30/07)--More than 8.3 million American adults were victims of identity theft in 2005, says a new report. That means credit unions must continue efforts in two areas: beefing up security efforts to protect members' data and educating members to guard their information and to recognize fraudulent attempts to collect the information. The number of victims accounts for 3.7% of all American adults, said the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which released the data Wednesday. Thieves misused existing credit card accounts of about 3.2 million of victims, or 1.4% of all adults. They misused noncredit card accounts of 3.3 million victims or 1.5% of adults. And they opened new accounts or committed fraud using personal information of 1.8 million people--0.8% of adults. Costs of goods or services obtained with stolen information varied widely: in at least half the cases costs were $500 or under, but in 10% of cases, thieves looted more than $6,000 of goods and services. Victims' out-of-pocket expenses also varied widely: in more than half the incidents, victims incurred no out-of-pocket expenses. However, 10% of victims saw at least $1,200 in out-of-pocket costs due to ID theft. (The survey did not count losses to institutional victims, such as credit unions who paid for replacing the cards.) The median time spent by victims in resolving problems caused by the thefts was four hours. Ten percent of victims, however, spent at least 55 hours resolving their problems and half of them spent at least 130 hours doing so. Losses were three times greater in instances where the thieves opened new accounts (a median $1,350 in losses) than with existing accounts (less than $500). Of the victims, 37% reported problems such as harassment by debt collectors, denial of new credit, inability to use existing cards, denial of loans, experiencing utilities cut off, being subjected to a criminal investigation or civil suit; being arrested; and difficulties obtaining or accessing bank accounts. When thieves opened new accounts with the information, victims were more than twice as likely to have one or more of these problems, said FTC. Credit unions looking to beef up security measures or educate members about protecting their information have many resources to assist them. Use the resource links for more information.
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