SAN FRANCISCO (2/10/09)--The number of identity fraud victims in 2008 increased 22% to 9.9 million adults in the U.S., according to the 2009 Identity Fraud Survey Report, issued Monday by Javelin Strategy & Research. However, the total annual fraud amount rose only slightly--7%--to $8 billion during the past year, the survey said (Business Wire
Feb. 9). Javelin, based in Pleasanton, Calif., is an independent provider of quantitative and qualitative research focused on financial services topics. Other key survey findings:
* Overall identity fraud incidents increased in the U.S. The number of identity fraud incidents in 2008 rose by 22% over 2007, which brings the number back up to levels not seen since 2004. Javelin said the rise was due to economic misfortune. Historically, higher rates of fraud occur when the economy worsens. Identity fraud remains substantially lower overall when compared to the 2004 level of $60 billion. * Cost to consumers is down. The mean consumer cost of identity fraud decreased 31% to $496-- its lowest level since 2005--from $718 per incident. The lower cost per incident is attributable to faster detection of fraud, lower fraud amounts, and quicker resolution times thanks to industry efforts and consumer education, Javelin said. * Fraudsters are moving much more quickly. In cases where identity fraud was reported, 71% of the fraud incidents began occurring less than one week from when the data was stolen, up from 33% in 2005. The dramatic increase points to more sophisticated attacks by fraudsters and an increasing number of “attacks of opportunity” in which people or businesses leave data exposed. * Gender disparity. Women were 26% more likely to be victims of identity fraud than men in 2008. Women are making more purchases in stores, and more women than men experienced breaches last year. * Low-tech methods still most popular. Lost or stolen wallets, checkbooks and credit and debit cards were still the most likely avenues of fraudsters’ attacks. These avenues totaled 43% of all incidents in which the method of access was known. By protecting their information, consumers can significantly lower their risks, Javelin said.
Businesses and financial institution such as credit unions should continue working together and educating consumers on how to protect their data, Javelin added.