Identity Theft Highest Since 2004, Report Suggests

Dennis Faas's picture

A recently released report from Javelin Research suggests that identity fraud rose 22 percent in 2008 and reached its highest level since 2004.

The study included nearly 4,800 U.S. adults surveyed over the telephone. 482 of those surveyed admitted they had been victims of identity fraud.

The Javelin Strategy & Research report (in PDF format) overview says "almost 10 million Americans learned they were victims of identity fraud in 2008, up from 8.1 million victims in 2007. More consumers are becoming victimized by this serious crime, reversing a previous trend in which identity fraud had been gradually decreasing. This makes sense because overall criminal activity tends to increase when there is a recession." (Source PDF:

Number Of Victims Up, Cost To Consumers Down

The cost of identity fraud dropped 31 percent from $718 to $496 per incident, the lowest since 2005. The decline in the cost to consumers is attributed to faster detection, lower fraud amounts accrued, and quicker resolution times as a result of industry efforts and consumer education. (Source:

Phishing and hacking attacks continue grabbing headlines, but most of the identity fraud is the result of stolen wallets, checkbooks and credit cards.

43 percent of all incidents where the method of access was known was attributed to lost or stolen wallets compared with 19 percent that occurred during a consumer transaction, 13 percent for theft by friends, employees and family members, and 11 percent for online theft and data breaches.

Javelin Strategy & Research also noted that women were 26 percent more likely to be the victims of identity fraud than men. Javelin Strategy's report (PDF) is available from (Source PDF:

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