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Identity Theft on the Rise

Written by Nickel - 10 Comments

Identity Theft on the RiseAccording to a recent survey by Javelin Strategy & Research, identity theft is on the rise. Moreover, the “core millenial” group — those between the ages of 18 and 24 — are at greatest risk because it takes them much longer than other age groups to figure out they’ve been victimized.

Apparently it takes young people an average of 132 days to to detect credit and bank fraud as compared to 49 days in older age groups. Thus, once their identity has been compromised, fraudsters have over four months to take advantage of the information before young victims figure out what’s going on.

Overall, 14% of those surveyed reported having fallen victim to identity theft, a 12% increase over the past year. Not surprisingly, criminals are increasingly relying on high tech methods of capturing personal information, including phishing, SMiShing, and keylogging.

Another cautionary note is that small business owners fall victim to identity theft 1.5 times as often as other adults, apparently because they often use personal accounts when making business transactions, and also because they make more transactions than “typical” adults.

Interestingly, though identity thieves steal an average of $4,841 per victim, the ultimate cost to the victim averages $373 (median = $0) because banks usually cover most, if not all, of the losses. Identity theft can be a big time suck, though, as the average victim spends 21 hours filing claims and getting their money back.

Fortunately, I’ve never had to personally deal with identity theft. If you have, I invite you to share you experiences in the comments.

Source: Javelin Strategy via WashingtonPost.com

Published on March 18th, 2010 - 10 Comments
Filed under: Identity Theft

About the author: is the founder and editor-in-chief of this site. He's a thirty-something family man who has been writing about personal finance since 2005, and guess what? He's on Twitter!

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10 Responses to “Identity Theft on the Rise”

  1. 1
    John Says:

    A few months ago I got a call from one of my credit cards. they asked if I had recently made any purchases at a book store. I said I had not. Apparently someone had attempted to make ~$2700 of purchases at Amazon.com using my credit card. The charge had been denied, so there was never any money lost. They immediately closed the account and opened a new one under a different number with the same features.

    I followed up by immediately calling the customer service number on the back of my card to verify that the original call I received was indeed from my card issuer and was not itself an attempt at identity theft. The good news is that my card issuer immediately raised a flag and denied the suspicious charges. The bad news is that I have no idea how the card was compromised in the first place.

  2. 2
    cemccon Says:

    Everyone should check out this site: https://www.myidscore.com/ Is is a FREE (no, really, it is. This isn’t one of those ‘free’ sites where you have to enter your credit card number to sign up for a service, just to have to cancel within the ‘trial’ period). I’ve used it, and it gives you an ID score between 1 (lowest risk of identity fruad), and 999 (highest risk). Look into it.

  3. 3
    Ron Says:

    I’ve been through it and it’s rough. What made it worse was that it was my estranged little brother who knew my SS number, my date of birth and who has the exact same initials as me. He used my (and his) first and second initials and our last name to steal my identity after I moved out of state several years ago.

    It took me about 45 days to find out, that’s when the American Express skip tracing phone calls started coming in. I can tell you that Amex was fabulous to deal with. They never pursued me any further. He applied for and received a gold Amex card, reapplied again when it was shut down for non-payment, then applied for two Visa cards and a MasterCard before I stopped him.

    Yes, I prosecuted. It’s a felony in that state and he was given three years probation. Why prosecute my own brother? He’s gotten away with so many financial shenanigans that SOMEONE needed to make him face the music. This was the only time in his life that Mom and Dad couldn’t bail him out of his own financial mess. Mine was the THIRD identity he had stolen! Mom and Dad always settled it for him — hush hush — with the other victims.

    It hasn’t been an easy road. My parents were angry at first but they finally settled down. He actually had the nerve to call me and tell me that “if I would only follow ‘Biblical principles of forgiveness,’ that he wouldn’t be in this mess.” That’s when I screamed at him to never call MY home ever again and literally threw my cordless phone through the wall.

    I now monitor my credit, maintain a constant fraud alert on my credit report, and check my banking accounts several times every single day.

    The biggest thing is forgiveness and I do admit it’s been hard. He has continued to attack me personally through my own blog, my friends, my parents, my nephews, etc. I have a strong “strike back” personality so it’s been really hard. He’s my only sibling, and I wish I had a brother I could count on.

  4. 4
    BG Says:

    #3 Ron) I feel for you. All criminals have (had) families at some point, and likely their family members were their first victims. Lets hope your brother cleans up his act and you two can bond again.

    As for me, I’ve had my CC company call me about suspicious purchases before (all were legit). I did once find a purchase that I didn’t make and the bank cleared it up right away (issued new card/numbers).

    Your advice on checking statements daily is right on.

  5. 5
    Pineview Style Says:

    I have heard Dave Ramsey advertise Identity Theft Insurance from Zander and have toyed with the idea of getting it for myself. Does any one use this? Thanks!

  6. 6
    Kevin K Says:

    132 days to detect fraud is unacceptable, we need to educate the younger age brackets to follow their statements more closely, keep records of their expenditures and cross check – both online and on print statements. I would think based on the billing cycle 30 – 60 days should be the maximum.

  7. 7
    philip Says:

    Mine was not too much of a problem. Basically I saw a charge from iTunes for a couple dollars then a charge for about $700 for something I had no idea what was. Turns out it was an airline in the middle east and it was for tickets. I contacted my bank and spoke with them about it, they “researched” it and sent me some paper work to fill out and took care of the rest and issued a new card to me.

    Probably saw it and took care of it within a week. Hopefully they didn’t even get to go on the flight!

  8. 8
    The Biz of Life Says:

    It’s easier than robbing a bank. Gives new meaning to that old saying: don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Also, it’s one more reason to dump Window as an OS because the hackers code almost exclusively to exploit the flaws in that OS.

    In my case, someone stole credit card checks out of my mailbox and wrote a couple….. another reason to get rid of credit cards…..

  9. 9
    JamesR Says:

    @8 “…In my case, someone stole credit card checks out of my mailbox and wrote a couple….. another reason to get rid of credit cards…..”

    I’m sorry to hear of your experience with those wretched checks.

    Whenever I’ve gotten them in the mail, I’ve immediately called the issuer and firmly and sternly told them that I never, ever wanted the checks sent to me again. I explain to them that it’s an invitation to fraud waiting to happen. I tell them I want no part of that nonsense. So far, no more checks.

  10. 10
    Lacey Says:

    A so-called ‘friend’ stole my W-2 from my desk at home. She knew most of my information (DOB, etc), printed up some fake documents in my name, and applied for a $20,000 car loan. If she had used a real phone number on the application, she would have gotten the call telling her to come pick up her new car. Instead, when the dealer couldn’t reach the number she gave, they looked up my work number (since she used my real W-2) and called me at work. I’d already suspected her of stealing my W-2, so I knew right away it was her. She also used my personal information to gain access to all my banking information, print up checks with my account numbers, but someone else’s personal information (she had a forged photo ID of that person) and write lots of checks against my accounts.

    It was a complete nightmare and took me months to correct the problems. Despite the dealer picking her out of a photo lineup, video surviellance of her writing the forged checks, and her many previous convictions for this type of crime, the police were extremely uncooperative. I had to hound them for months before they would even take the matter to a judge (for a warrant). They finally issued a warrant, but refused to actually go attempt an arrest, telling me she’d ‘turn up eventually…at a traffic stop or something.’ In the meantime, even though my bank accounts were long closed, she could continue to write more checks against my old accounts and cause me more problems.

    Although it was awful, the damage was somewhat minimized because I acted quickly, took every action available to me, and knew exactly who had done it. I had an idea of what information she could try to use against me.

    My best protection was to add verbal passwords to all my accounts. Your personal information can be obtained easily, and used to ‘verify’ your identity; a password that only you know cannot.

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