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How Serious Is Identity Theft Really?

Jan 2, 2008
Yearly Reports of Identity Theft to the Federal Trade Commission:

In 2007 identity theft accounted for 36 percent of the 674,354 fraud and identity theft complaints (reported to the Federal Trade Commission.

In 2005 -255,565 cases of identity theft were reported to the FTC

In 2004 -246,847 cases of identity theft were reported to the FTC

In 2003 215,177 cases reported of identity theft were reported to the FTC

In 2001 CBS News reported that someone became the victim of identity theft every 79 seconds (CBSnews.com, 1/25/01)

Between 1997 and 2005 the Federal Trade Commission reported that over 3 million cases of fraud and identity theft were reported to over 1400 law enforcement agencies in 19 nations. Identity theft crimes are not limited to the United States but are committed world wide.

Facts every consumer should know:

- Credit card fraud (26%) was the most common form of reported identity theft followed by phone or utilities fraud; (18%), bank fraud (17%), and employment fraud (12%). Other significant categories of identity theft reported by victims were government documents/benefits fraud (9%) and loan fraud (5%). (Federal Trade Commission Complaint Data)

- the majority of cases go unreported to Federal or local authorities

- the most common age group affected by identity theft is 18-29

- the top 10 metropolitan areas affected by identity theft include: Phoenix, AZ; Las Vegas, NV; Miami, FL; San Francisco, CA; and Dallas, TX (2005)

- California had the most reported cases of identity theft with a total of approximately 45,000 cases of identity theft (2005)

- the most common method of retrieving information for use in identity theft is through lost or stolen wallets, theft of mail, dumpster diving, and information obtained through friends, family or consumer providers

- another common method of obtaining your information is by "stealing" it at a business that you may you frequent

New, Harder to Detect Form of Identity Theft

Synthetic identity theft occurs when bits and pieces of several people are used in order to create an entirely new identity. Information may come in the form of an address from one person, the social security number of another and employment or banking information from a third or fourth.

Your Damages resulting from Identity Theft:

In a study conducted of 173 victims of identity theft by The Identity Theft Resource Center specific damages were explored. In each case the victim's damages included:

- an extended period of time to correct their credit status;
- 85% of the victims found out about the theft when they attempted to apply for a job or credit;
- victims are currently spending over 600 hours attempting to repair the damages to their credit
- victims are spending money in the approximate a amount of over $16,000 per victim to repair their credit
- it is taking longer to remove negative, incorrect or falsified information from their credit reports
- many victims equate the emotional impact of identity theft with that of a violent crime - in some cases similar to a rape as the violation can be that personal.

Identity theft is a serious crime. Damages result to individuals, banks, and businesses as well as families. Imagine going to purchase your new home to find out that your credit is damaged and now you are unable to. Imagine the time and money you will spend to correct the problems associated with identity theft. Millions of dollars and Hundreds of thousands of people in the United States and millions worldwide are affected each year by identity theft. Victims, both personal and business must use valuable time, effort and resources to correct the situation, which in some cases is beyond total repair. Damages are not only to your credit and your finances but also to your emotional, physical, and psychological well being.

Reporting suspected identity theft is essential to protecting yourself further and protecting others. Reports should be filed with local authorities, your State's Attorney General's office and the Federal Trade Commission. Consumers need to not only protect their information but by reporting efforts at identity theft may be able to stop it from happening in the future.

Consumers can report ID theft to the FTC by calling the agency's toll-free number: 877-438-4338.
About the Author
Lisa Carey is a contributing author for Identity Theft Secrets: prevention and protection. You can get tips on Identity theft protection, software, and monitoring your credit as well as learn more about the secrets used by identity thieves at the Identity Theft Secrets blog.
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