Created on: March 01, 2013
A recent report published by Javelin Strategy & Research highlighted the trends and statistics associated with identity theft in 2012. The report looked at the numbers, latest fraud trends, data breaches and more.
The numbers were astonishing. According to Javelin's findings, identity thieves made off with an estimated $21 billion last year, ripping off about 12.6 million Americans. Breaking it down, the organization indicated this equated to one new victim of identity theft about every three seconds in the U.S. during 2012.
These figures are a three-year high. Although, not the highest as Javelin reported in 2004 consumers experienced losses equating to $47 billion.
While identity fraud occurred in many ways, the two most common methods criminals used to steal identities new account fraud (NAF) and account takeover fraud (ATF).
“We have to keep up with fraudsters faster,” says Jim Van Dyke, CEO of Javelin Strategy & Research, reported Fox Business News. “The degree to which new account fraud is up sharply as well, and that is the most damaging form of ID fraud.”
Another key take away from the report is the problem of data breaches. Unfortunately, with the enormous amounts of information businesses and other organizations amass, data has become a hot commodity for identity thieves. Many data breaches are attributed to hacking, and not all entities are proactive about protecting consumer data.
Javelin emphasized consumers should take any data breach notices they receive seriously.
According to the study, approximately 1 in 4 people who had information exposed in a data breach later became an identity theft victim. Additionally, victims who had their social security number compromised were "5 times more likely" to fall victim to identity theft, said Javelin; this is an increase over 2011.
“This past year was one where there were both successes and setbacks for consumers, institutions and fraudsters,” Van Dyke said in a press release. “Consumers and institutions are now starting to act as partners—detecting and stopping fraud faster than ever before. But fraudsters are acting quicker than ever before and victimizing more consumers. Consumers must take data breach notifications more seriously and maintain vigilance to safeguard personal information, especially Social Security numbers.”
This report perhaps illuminates that identity theft is not a problem that is on the decline. As society remains reliant upon digital information, identity thieves are doing their best to capitalize on the information that is exchanged. Over the past several years identity thieves have made this type of theft a lucrative, albeit illegal, industry.
The report also highlighted that awareness and proactive handling of personal data is important.
The U.S. Federal Trade Commission provides some strategies on how to avoid becoming a victim of identity theft and also provides some tips on what to do if it happens to you.
Javelin Strategy & Research has been conducting identity theft studies for the last 10 years.
Learn more about this author, Leigh Goessl.
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