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ID Theft Down, But Losses Up, Survey Finds

By CIOinsight  |  Posted 02-10-2011 Print
While cases of identity theft were down for the first time in two years, the average losses from these incidents is rising.

The number of identity fraud victims dropped in 2010, but the average out-of-pocket losses have gone up, as thieves focus on new account fraud and stealing from people they know.

Total card-related identity fraud in the United States dropped by a third from $56 billion in 2009 to $37 billion in 2010, according to the results of a consumer fraud survey released Feb. 9 by Javelin Strategy and Research. The total number of victims nationwide also dropped more than 26 percent, from 11 million in 2009 to 8.1 million in 2010, the report found. The mean fraud amount per victim also declined from $4,991 in 2009 to $4,607 in 2010, Javelin said.

While the number of victims are currently at 2007 levels, the drop between 2009 and 2010 is the largest single-year decrease since Javelin started the survey back in 2003.

While all that sounds like good news, the report noted that victim's losses, which include the costs of clearing up identity theft and covering some of the charges incurred by thieves, have shot up 63 percent, on average, from $387 in 2009 to $631 per incident in 2010, the report found.

"Identity fraud underwent a marked decline and shift over the past year," said James Van Dyke, Javelin's president and founder.

Annual incidence rates also fell to 3.5 percent of all card transactions, compared to 4.8 percent in 2009, Javelin said. Identity theft victims account for 3.5 percent of the population in the United States, Javelin found.

The Â"significant dropÂ" in reported data breaches may have contributed to the decline, Javelin said. There were 404 breaches with 26 million records compromised in 2010, compared to 604 breaches and 221 million records in 2009, according to the research report.


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