Identity Fraud Hits 11M US Adults

February 10, 2010

The number of identity fraud victims in the US rose 12% between 2008 and 2009, according to the 2010 Identity Fraud Survey Report from Javelin Strategy & Research.

In 2009, 11.1 million US adults were victimized by identity fraud, compared to 9.9 million in 2008. As a percentage of the population, 4.8% of US adults were identity fraud victims, up from 4.3% in 2008.


Some Good Financial News Exists

Although the total dollar amount of identity fraud in 2009 was an estimated $54 billion, up 12.5% from $48 billion in 2008, some financial news relating to identity fraud is encouraging. The median fraud amount per victim remained flat at $750, but the mean fraud amount per victim dropped 0.3%, from $4,858 to $4,841. The median consumer cost also stayed flat at $0, while the mean consumer cost declined 25.1% from $498 to $373.

Victims Spend Fewer Hours Resolving ID Fraud

The median time victims spent resolving identity fraud stayed flat at five hours in 2009. However, the mean time spent resolving identity fraud declined 30%, from 30 hours to 21 hours.

Other Findings

  • Seventy-five percent of existing card fraud incidents came from credit cards, an increase of 12% from 2008. In contrast, existing debit card fraud incidents decreased 2% and represented 33% of total existing card fraud in 2009.
  • The number of fraudulent new credit card accounts increased to 39% of all identity fraud victims, up from 33% in 2008. New online accounts opened fraudulently more than doubled, and the number of new email payment accounts increased 12%. Twenty-nine percent of new accounts fraud victims reported new mobile phone accounts were fraudulently opened.
  • Identification most likely to be compromised in a data breach continues to be full name (63%) and physical address (37%). With a year-over-year increase of 4%, health insurance information is increasingly targeted. The percentage of Social Security numbers compromised decreased to 32% from 38% in 2008.
  • Half of all victims filed a police report, resulting in more arrests and convictions.
  • Millennials (consumers aged 18-24) take nearly twice as many days to detect fraud, compared to other age groups, and thus are fraud victims for longer periods of time. Millennials were found to be the less likely to monitor accounts regularly and the least likely group to take advantage of monitoring programs offered by financial institutions. However, Millennials were the most likely group to take action such as switching primary banks or switching forms of payment.

Steps to Prevent Identity Fraud

Javelin recommends consumers take the following five steps to prevent identity fraud and more quickly detect it if they become victimized:

1. Protect paper documents.
2. Use anti-virus software and other security technologies, be on the lookout for “phishing” emails asking for personal data, and never put compromising information online.
3. Monitor current available bank and credit card accounts on a weekly basis.
4. Monitor credit reports and non-credit account information for establishment of new fraudulent accounts.
5. Resolve identity fraud completely if you are victimized.

Fraud Trends for 2010 Include Identity Fraud

Likely fraud trends for 2010 include several identity fraud-related scams, according to The Fraud Practice, LLC. In its list of top 10 fraud trends for this year, The Fraud Practice included the use of skimming devices to steal consumers’ ATM card data, phishing emails that illegally solicit personal information, phony checks using stolen bank account data, mobile phone fraud, and online applications for lines of credit using stolen identities.

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