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Identity theft down but cost skyrockets

Ellen Messmer | Feb. 8, 2011
Identity theft related to credit and debit cards dropped by 28% in 2010 over 2009—but the out-of-pocket cost to victimized consumers rose by 68%.

The report also points out the danger of fraud and social networking sites.

"People using social networking for five or more years are twice as likely as those newer to social networking sites to suffer identity fraud (6.9% for five-plus-year users vs. 3.2% for newer users vs. 3.4% for non-users)," the report states.

The report says "users of LinkedIn, not Facebook or MySpace, are more likely to be victims of fraud involving their full name, Social Security number, physical address, credit-card number and PIN on their credit card. This correlation may be because LinkedIn is a more professional social network, whose members have higher incomes than Facebook members and thus are more likely targets."

Javelin has conducted its survey and study on identity theft and payment cards for eight years and this time the research firm takes a look at the country's overall economic health across the years to try and find patterns.

Regardless of security innovations in fraud control, the simple truth may be that poor people steal more in times of greater need.

"As retail sales go up, the identity fraud rate sinks. When retail sales decrease, the identity fraud rate rises," the report concludes.

In addition, fraud trends differ state by state. The 11 states showed increases in fraud over 2009 include Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Florida (said to be the worst), Kansas, Michigan, Nebraska, New Jersey, North Carolina, Utah and West Virginia.


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