Identity theft - ID theft

Discover what identity theft is, how ID theft impacts your life, how you can repair financial damage and prevent future problems.

Identity theft is rapidly becoming a major crime. ID theft incidence rates have accelerated, impacting over 27 million Americans in the five year period 1998 to 2003 according to the Federal Trade Commission analysis. According to latest data, identity theft impacted nearly 4.7% of the American population, representing nearly 10 million incidences of identity theft in 2

ID theft reflects criminal motivations targeted at unsuspecting individuals. The primary target area selected by villains for identity theft is money or credit resources. In significant numbers of reported cases of identity theft, current bank or financial accounts had been plundered by thieves, who had gained access to account titling or account password information.

Credit card identity theft occurs in significant numbers where credit card data associated with purchases has not been secured or encrypted with barriers to entry by thieves or other unauthorized persons. Identity theft associated with credit card abuse represent an overwhelming 65% to 67% of reported cases. Identity theft also occurs when financial institutions make administrative errors associated with individual customer file set-up and maintenance procedures. An unsecured file containing detailed personal and financial data creates an identity theft temptation for professional as well as first-time thieves.

ID theft crimes are perpetrated in non-financial sectors such as where the identity theft victim personal data are used by the thief in order to obtain a job. In related cases, identity theft victim data qualify the thief for access to government documents related to tax forms, mortgage details, insurance and more as the thieves orchestrate even more complex and potentially damaging crimes against innocent people. Commercial identity theft associated with unauthorized access to mortgage and personal banking (savings and checking account fraud) accounts for nearly 20% of reported cases of identity theft in 2003.

Identity theft creates significant economic impacts. Direct costs of identity theft for consumers totaled nearly $5 billion in 2003 alone. Meanwhile, commercial identity theft targeting financial institutions and other businesses created liabilities of nearly $48 billion in 2003. Identity theft losses at the individual account level averaged over $10,000 per victim in the financial institutions reporting.

Identity theft occurs overwhelmingly in circumstances where the victim stumbles onto the fraud, and where the identity theft victim has not been alerted by her or his bank or credit card company of abnormal account activity levels (i.e. purchases). In over 50% of reported cases, the identity theft victim is first to spot irregularities in savings or checking account or credit card account statements.

Identity theft target areas include unsecured bank and financial institution account records, online sites utilizing credit card information, outright theft of wallets and handbags containing cards and social security information, as well as identity theft associated with fraudulent tampering of US mail.

Please continue to utilize this ID theft resource site for guidance on recovery strategies, identity theft prevention strategies. Public service identity theft resource information can also be obtained at Identity Theft Protection Information & Resource Center or ID Theft resource Center.

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