Identity Fraud: One Victim but We All Pay
(New York Times) — While the estimated number of identity fraud victims fell steeply last year from the year prior, consumers’ out-of-pocket identity fraud costs rose, according to a new report from Javelin Strategy & Research. According to the 2011 Identity Fraud Survey Report, 8.1 million adults in the United States were identity fraud victims last year, down 28 percent, or three million, from 2009, the largest single-year decrease since Javelin started tracking the data in 2003. At the same time, however, the average consumer out-of-pocket cost due to identity fraud increased to $631 per incident in 2010, up 63 percent from $387 in 2009. Such costs include the expenses of paying off fraudulent debt as well as resolution fees, such as legal costs. According to James Van Dyke, president and founder of Javelin Strategy & Research, the decrease in the number of identity fraud victims, and the total amount of annual fraud, can be attributed to efforts of businesses, the financial services industry and the government to educate consumers and prevent and resolve such fraud. Consumers are monitoring their accounts more carefully too, he said. He also cited increased security measures, law enforcement successes and the improving economy as reasons for the decreases. At the same time, Mr. Van Dyke said the increase in the average out-of-pocket cost for consumers may be a result of shifts in the types of frauds thieves are pursuing. Last year, Mr. Van Dyke said, there was a shift toward stealing from new accounts rather than existing cards, a shift toward debit card fraud from credit card fraud and an increase in “friendly fraud” (theft against you by people you know).