Shocking Facts About ID Theft

  • Horror Stories

    Identity theft was a problem before people ever started posting all their personal information online. In 1998, Malcolm Byrd from Wisconsin read in a paper that a man falsely using his name had just been arrested on drug charges. Byrd got the paper to add a correction, but for years after, police records continued to show that Byrd had been busted for drugs. Since then, Byrd has been arrested, lost his license and nearly had his kids taken away, all because someone had taken his identity and tarnished it. This story may seem extreme, but the truth is that people across the country experience different degrees of identity theft and fraud. It can happen to the chairman of the Federal Reserve and it can happen to a 12 year old boy. And arguably, the problem is getting worse now that our lives overflow onto the Internet. Here are some surprising (and often frightening) identity theft statistics from 2009, and some tips on how to avoid becoming a victim of this yourself. Photo Credit: CarbonNYC
    New Research
  • New Research

    Javelin Strategy and Research, a financial industry research group, just released their annual identity fraud survey for 2009, with some shocking finds. They have done more than 29,000 interviews in order to put this study together. Here are some of their more shocking findings. Photo Credit: th0mi
    Identity Fraud is On the Rise
  • Identity Fraud is On the Rise

    The number of US adults (18 and older) who were victims of identity fraud in 2009 was 11.2 million. That’s the highest in the last 6 years that Javelin Research has been keeping track. That is a 13% increase from the previous year, when 9.9 million people suffered ID fraud. According to James Van Dyke, the President and founder of Javelin, this increase is mainly the result of the bad economy, which traditionally drives up the amount of fraud reported. He also notes that "fraudsters are becoming increasingly savvy with technology." Photo Credit: TheTruthAbout...
    Small Business Owners Get Hit
  • Small Business Owners Get Hit

    Small business owners suffer ID fraud one and a half times as often as all other U.S. adults. More than seven percent of small business owners surveyed claimed to have been the victim of ID fraud. According to Javelin, this may be because “business owners use personal accounts when making business transactions and make more transactions than typical adults.” Photo Credit: Getty Images
    Social Networking Not So Bad (Yet)
  • Social Networking Not So Bad (Yet)

    It may sound counter-intuitive, but Javelin’s study found that people who use social networks do not experience a higher rate of identity fraud. Only 4% of those surveyed claimed to experience ID fraud on these sites. Of those surveyed, adults 18-24 years claimed the most incidents, with 7% experiencing fraud. Still, Javelin's president urges people to refrain from a "reckless sharing of information" on social networks. "It's safe to say that we expect more fraud to occur from social media as usage increases," Van Dyke said. Photo Credit: Robert S. Donovan
    The Kids Don't Get It
  • The Kids Don't Get It

    Millenials and young adults take longer to figure out they have been the victim of ID fraud. Apparently, we are all too busy just living our lives to realize someone else is trying to steal them from us. According to Javelin, it takes 18-34-year-olds and average of 132 days to figure out they’ve been victimized. On the other hand, it take Americans 65 or older just 29 days. Van Dyke notes that young people are “the least likely group to monitor accounts regularly,” which explains the problem. "Bottom line, young adults need to be more cautious with protecting their computer activities and monitoring accounts," Van Dyke said. But on the bright side, this population is great at using new technology to take action once they’ve found out. Photo Credit: Ollie Crafoord
    Fraud Tactics Have Changed
  • Fraud Tactics Have Changed

    Apparently, fraud has changed with the times. In the old days, the main method for taking over another person’s account was to change their physical address. But last year, the leading method was to add their name as a registered user on an account, which Van Dyke refers to as one of the "less-protected areas of personal identity." Watch out, the fraudsters have gone digital. Photo Credit: Don Hankins
    Fraud Can Last A Long, Long Time
  • Fraud Can Last A Long, Long Time

    One big plague in 2009 was the rise of new account fraud. According to Javelin, 39% of those surveyed had to deal with fake credit card accounts created in their name, an increase of 6 percent from the previous year. Meanwhile, 29 percent reported fraudulent cell phone accounts were opened in their name. This problem was made worse by the fact that new account fraud can last significantly longer than all other kinds of fraud. For example, of those who had new credit card accounts created in their name, more than a third had their information misused for 6 months or longer. Photo Credit:
    Health Document Fraud Increases
  • Health Document Fraud Increases

    The most likely information that may be poached from users continues to be your full name and physical address. However, health insurance information is increasingly being targeted. Seven percent of victims claimed their health information documents were breached, more than twice the amount of the previous year. Photo Credit: troismarteaux
    People Lost Less Money On Average
  • People Lost Less Money On Average

    There was some good news in the study, though. The average amount of money that victims reported losing  last year due to fraud was $4,841, which is a little less than in 2008, and much less than in years prior. Of course, that is still a lot of money to lose, but it’s a positive trend nonetheless. Photo Credit: stuartpilbrow
    Consumers Struck Back
  • Consumers Struck Back

    Also, nearly half of all victims took the initiative and filed police reports last year, compared to just a third of victims the year before. This had some noticeable effects. Ten percent of victims said there was an arrested made, compared to 7% the year before. And more fraud victims reported having their issues resolved than in previous years. Photo Credit: Polina Sergeeva
    Be Careful What Information You Divulge
  • Be Careful What Information You Divulge

    Javelin urges that you refrain from ever making public your mom’s maiden name, your birth date or even your pet’s name. That means don’t give out that information to any Web site and definitely don’t title any blogs after your pet. Photo Credit: Anonymous9000
    Your Phone is Your Friend
  • Your Phone is Your Friend

    One big mistake that people make is not staying on top of their bank accounts. If you can catch fraud early, you can minimize the negative impact, so sign up to receive regular bank notifications of suspicious activity on your cell phone, or just by e-mail. According to Javelin, those who relied on these methods had “lower average out-of-pocket costs.” Photo Credit: ydhsu
    Forget Debit Cards
  • Forget Debit Cards

    Identity Theft 911 recommends that users avoid debit cards when buying stuff online, because they automatically deduct money from your account. Photo Credit: Andres Rueda
    Useful Web sites to Protect Yourself
  • Useful Web sites to Protect Yourself

    Luckily, there are plenty of good Web sites out there devoted to helping you protect against ID fraud and recover from it if you do become a victim. Check out our list of some of the best sites out there. Photo Credit:
    Tweet alongside us
  • Tweet alongside us

    Wait! If you haven't already, now is a great time to follow us on Twitter. You'll get all of our most important stories, right as they publish. Follow us: Photo Credit: Mixy
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