Identity Fraud Up In Total Dollars And Victims

Monday, February 9, 2009, AM | Leave Comment

There is an article on reuters.com titled “Identity fraud up in total dollars, victims” by Jonathan Stempel published on Mon Feb 9, 2009. The data is for 2008.

What is Identity theft?
Identity theft occurs when someone uses your personal identifying information, like your name, Social Security number, or credit card number, without your permission, to commit fraud or other crimes.

Identity theft is serious. While some identity theft victims can resolve their problems quickly, others spend hundreds of dollars and many days repairing damage to their good name and credit record.

Some consumers victimized by identity theft may lose out on job opportunities, or be denied loans for education, housing or cars because of negative information on their credit reports. In rare cases, they may even be arrested for crimes they did not commit.

The article states that “The average loss is falling as consumers and businesses detect fraud faster, a new study shows.” However, the total number of victims and the total amount of dollars rose.

Number of victims
The number of victims of Identity theft rose 22 percent to a record 9.9 million in 2008 from 8.1 million a year earlier, with about one in 23 U.S. adults becoming victims.

Cost to consumers
Total losses increased from about $45 billion to $48 billion, following three straight years of declines. The average loss fell 12 percent to $4,849 from $5,488.

Cost to clear up your name
One positive trend was that consumers spent less to clear up a fraud – an average $496, down 31 percent. More than half spent nothing.

Ways of Identity theft
Improper use of lost or stolen wallets, checkbooks, and credit and debit cards remained the most common means of fraud, constituting 43 percent of all incidents. Roughly one in four victims had personal identification numbers (PIN) compromised on their ATM cards. Online fraud totaled 11 percent of cases.

Related items
Read more about Identity theft.

Moral of the story
Once you know that your identity may have been stolen, you can do a number of things immediately to restore your good name:

  • File a police report
  • Check your credit reports
  • Notify creditors
  • Dispute any unauthorized transactions.

Read the article on reuters.com in full: Identity fraud up in total dollars, victims.

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