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Identity Theft Statistics Are Extremely Alarming

Aug 26, 2008
Identify theft is quite common in the United States, much more common than many of us think. Actually it is one of the fastest rising crimes in America, to make matters worse not only is it one of the most difficult to detect but one of the hardest to solve. The United States government has adopted some very harsh punishments for violators and if you are ever the victim of Identity Theft it is advised to pursue legal action against the person responsible to the fullest extent of the law.

One major disadvantage is that online hackers can steal your identity and then begin to use it before you even know that there is a problem. In fact if you are not one of those people that always keep a record of your purchases and transactions, how long do you think it will take until you notice that there is something wrong with your account? Maybe 1 day, 72 hours, a week, or a month well none of them are good, but to spend a little time every week to verify your credit card accounts and bank accounts will certainly pay off.

There are some reports that think that the statistics for this type of crime are much higher than reported as not all people discover the problem in a timely manner. This is due to the ease that the hackers and con artists can use your stolen identity just about anywhere in the country. Many time they never even use your social security number or your credit card numbers, but will just assume your identity by using your work history, medical history, or just your families name. Also keep in mind many people have no idea or understand what has happened to them, and do not know what to do about it.

In 2002 the FTC set up an Identity Theft hotline which indicates that about 161,000 cases were reported, while experts in this field estimate that there were 1.2 million victims of Identity Theft in 2002 just in the United States. For more information on the FTC and the excellent Identity Theft resources they provide go to:


Credit Card Fraud

The most common of all these types of crimes, credit card fraud is the cause of over 50 percent of reported Identity Theft crimes. It is reported that a credit card was opened in their name or that unauthorized charges have been reported on their current or existing accounts.

Unauthorized Electric or Phone Services

Identity thieves have hit about 25 percent of these victims, the thieves opened up new accounts for telephone, cellular, and other utility services in the victims name or had accessed current accounts to use for their own purposes.

Bank Fraud and Fraudulent Loans

About 16 percent of all Identity Theft victims report that a new checking or savings account, unauthorized withdrawals, or fraudulent checks written against their accounts. 9 percent have reported unauthorized loans have been obtained in their name, personal loans, business loans, automobile loans and real estate loans to name a few.

Government Provided Benefits

The number of people reporting that their name had been used to get a government issued document such as a drivers license, birth certificate, or even a social security card is around 8 percent. Some people have had their names and information used to file fraudulent documents like a tax return, a federal loan application, or to qualify for government benefits such as food stamps, Medicare, or other paid benefits.

Crimes of this nature can also result in the misuse of the victims private personal information to get a job, obtain medical services, evade law enforcement, get away from criminal records, get tax refunds and other government supplied benefits, file for bankruptcy, and lease a residence. It can also be used to open and access personal bank accounts, internet accounts, purchase and trade securities and investments and any other online accounting, banking, or online personal transactions.

Usually many of the victims of Identity Theft report that they have experienced more that one of the above types of crimes. Most do not know but the majority of these criminals are people that are close to the victim such as a family member, room mates, friends and neighbors, and coworkers.

While some people notice the problems within 30 to 60 days of the occurrences, some of the crimes went on for as long as 4 to 5 years. An average Identity Theft crime will go on for about 12 to 14 months from the date the crime occurs and the date that the victim notices the problem.
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For more information about Identity Theft and other Personal Finance Tips go to:Finance Tips 101
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