Over the Years: Trends & Growth of Identity Theft

With the increasing number of identity theft cases every year, let’s take a look at the most commonly abused consumer information and the latest reports about the crime of identity theft.

The latest fraud reports from the Javelin Strategy & Research Report

When The Javelin Strategy & Research conducted their report on identity theft, they found that the amount stolen and number of victims increased in 2012: from 11.6 million victims in 2011to 12.6 million in 2012; and from $18 billion in fraud losses in 2011 to $20.9 billion in 2012.

Another interesting finding of the report is that one in four consumers, who received breach notification from companies they did business with, have actually become victims of identity theft. Breach notification is one way for companies to alert consumers when their business has been compromised by identity theft, so consumers know what to do to protect their identities. It’s important to take breach notifications seriously, according to the Javelin Strategy & Research, because people who receive these warnings are more likely to become victims of fraud. When businesses offer free credit monitoring services to consumers affected by data breaches, it’s wise to take advantage of the offer; it allows consumers to closely monitor their accounts and prevent id theft.

On the positive note, the report has found that the average number of days consumer information of victims is fraudulently misused by thieves has dropped to around 48 days in 2012 from 55 days in 2011. This means that victims are now proactively protecting their accounts against fraud using credit monitoring, financial alerts and identity protection services. This collaboration positively impacts identity theft prevention, thereby, decreasing the number of days of fraudsters can misuse their victim’s personally identifying information. Victims can report if there are errors in their credit reports such as delinquent entries or su[censored] ious charges in their active accounts and this timely reporting decreases the damages and the costs of identity theft.

It’s necessary to be proactive at all times when it comes to your identity’s security, because thieves can easily gain access to your information and use it to commit fraud. Report problems immediately before they worsen and become out of control; this way, you are preventing losses and becoming more knowledgeable in terms of identity protection.

Identity theft trends: What’s the most misused victim information?

The Federal Trade Commission began do[censored] enting cases of and complaints about identity theft in2000, and they found that the most commonly misused information up until 2008 was credit card fraud followed in 2010 by benefits/government do[censored] ents fraud.

• Government do[censored] ents/benefits fraud – In this category, identity thieves use the identifying information of consumers to create counterfeit or fake do[censored] ents, including licenses, Social Security cards and birth certificates. They use these do[censored] ents to apply for benefits in the victim’s name. The effects of this fraud are seen when victims apply for benefits themselves and are denied because someone has already used their identity to make a benefits claim. This type of fraud can also impact the security of a nation, especially when the creation of false do[censored] ents is used by immigrants to enter a country illegally, where they can operate or support other criminal activities, such as credit card fraud and bank fraud.

• Credit card fraud–In this type of fraud, the main target of thieves are the credit cards of their victims. Whether they steal the cards from the victim’s wallet or use sophisticated techniques – like skimming or phishing – to obtain the victim’s credit card information, their main purpose is to am[censored] credit card charges illegally. To cover their tracks, thieves can also change the victim’s mailing address to make sure that victim will not see the fraudulent charges for some time, giving thieves more time to perpetrate their crimes. This, in turn, can devastate the victim’s credit standing and personal life.

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