A lot of time has been spent in this blog discussing spam and false or misleading identities associated with spam, but I have yet to tackle the subject of identity theft until today. It came to a few days ago while reading the morning news.
Did you know that 47% of all identity theft cases are traced to family members, relatives, friends, and neighbors? Similarly, 36% of all Identity theft victims know the person who misused their information?
It’s my opinion that most people think that most identity theft occurs online then anywhere else, but a study in 2006 reveled that 90% of all identity theft takes place offline. The primary sources of theft are through lost or stolen wallets, checkbooks, and credit cards. Garbage cans and refuse are decreasing as sources of theft as nearly 70% of all consumers shred their documents before throwing them out, so the trash is now responsible for less than 1% of identity theft sources.
ID Theft Trends by Age Group
- The 65+ age group has the smallest number of victims (2.3%)
- The 35-44 demographic age group has the highest average fraud amount ($9,435). No connection was found between the age group and Internet usage. Most fraud cases arose from offline areas such as lost cards, checkbooks, wallets, and carelessness in leaving personal information in an accessible area.
Four Misperceptions Surrounding Identity Fraud
Misperception #1: “Consumers are helpless to protect themselves”
- In 63% of fraud cases, the point of compromise was either theft by close associates of the consumer (friends, family, neighbors, etc.), lost or stolen wallets, cards and checkbooks, breached home computers or stolen mail or trash.
- Consumers detect almost half (47%) of identity fraud cases. Self-detection is faster (averages 67 days vs. 101 days), results in smaller average fraud amounts ($4,431 vs. $8,466) and smaller consumer costs ($347 vs. $538).
- A key way to detect fraudulent accounts is through credit monitoring / reports. Eleven percent of fraud cases were caught via this means.
Misperception #2: “Consumers bear the brunt of the financial losses from identity fraud”
- Average out-of-pocket cost for identity fraud victims is $422.
Misperception #3: “Internet use increases the risks of identity fraud”
- Less than 10% of identity theft cases occured online.
- Internet use can lead to lower damages from identity fraud.
- Electronic account monitoring is the fastest way to detect fraud and leads to lower losses – (22 days and $3,806).
Misperception #4: ” Seniors are most frequent targets of fraud operators”
- Generation X (ages 25-34) has the highest rate of identity fraud at 5.4 percent. The average fraud amount for this demographic is $6,270 as compared to the average fraud amount for the 65+ segment which is $2,665.
Identity Safety Tips That Can Protect Consumers
from the Better Business Bureau
PREVENT access to your personal information
- Do not release Social Security or account numbers in response to e-mail, phone or in-person requests. When responding to e-mail, ignore any Internet links provided and type the full address instead.
- Keep all sensitive documents, checkbooks and credit cards securely locked away at home and at work.
- Carry only those credit cards that you need in your wallet.
- Before discarding, shred all private documents.
- Retrieve paper mail promptly and place outgoing checks or other sensitive documents in a U.S. Postal Service mailbox.
- Sign up for automatic payroll deposits.
- Replace paper bills, statements and checks with online (paperless) versions.
- Keep passwords hidden (even in your own home) and change them frequently.
- Use and regularly update firewall and anti-virus software.
- Do not respond to suspicious e-mails. Delete them, and if there is any doubt contact the company to determine if the e-mail is real.
- Don’t discard a computer without completely destroying the data on the hard drive.
DETECT unauthorized activity
- Review bank, credit card and biller statements weekly – available through online account access.
- Contact your financial provider if you fail to receive statements in a timely manner.
- Review your credit information regularly (free annual reports are available at www.annualcreditreport.com or call 1-877-322-8228).
- Use e-mail-based account “alerts” to monitor transfers, payments, low balances, withdrawals, or detect any out-of-pattern activity.
- Visit your bank’s, credit card issuer’s or biller’s web site(s) frequently to monitor regular account activity.
RESOLVE fraud promptly, minimizing losses and protecting your credit record
- Ask your financial provider about zero-liability guarantees against fraud and dedicated resources to help you resolve and recover from any potential losses.
- Victims of theft: notify your financial providers, begin monitoring your accounts more frequently, and place an “alert” at all three credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian or TransUnion).
- Alert federal and local law enforcement if you suspect or detect identity fraud.
More Online Resources
- ID Theft State by State
- How Safe Are You? Take an Identity Safety Quiz at www.idsafety.net
- Better Business Bureau: www.bbb.org/idtheft
- Checkfree: www.checkfree.com/idprotect
- Federal Trade Commission: www.consumer.gov/idtheft/
- VISA: www.visa.com/security
- Wells Fargo: www.wellsfargo.com/privacy_security/fraud_prevention/
Statistics by Javelin Strategy and Research:
About Javelin Strategy and Research
Javelin provides research-based strategic direction for financial services, payments, e-commerce, and identity fraud. Javelin rigorously researches technology issues, industry trends, attitudes and activities of consumers, small businesses, institutions, processors, merchants, billers, and other organizations in order to deliver relevant, high-impact strategic guidance. Javelin can be found on the Web at www.javelinstrategy.com. For more information on this project or other Javelin studies, visit www.idsafety.net or www.javelinstrategy.com/reports/