NEW YORK (3/5/13)--Identity fraudsters made off with $21 billion from 12.6 million victims in 2012. Overall, slightly more than one of 20 consumers, 5.26%, learned they were victims last year (NBC News Feb. 20).
Javelin Strategy and Research's 2013 Identity Fraud Report released in February identified a 50% increase in the incidence of new account fraud, where the thief uses your personal information to fraudulently open new credit cards or loans in your name. Despite that dramatic increase, the study's author reported that simple credit card fraud still accounts for roughly two-thirds of all identity fraud.
Data breaches are especially troublesome. Almost one out of four consumers who received a data breach notification last year became a fraud victim. If you received a notice that your Social Security number was compromised by a data breach, you were five times more likely than other consumers to be a victim of identity fraud, and 14 times more likely to become a victim of new-account fraud.
Tablet owners are 80% more likely than all other consumers to become fraud victims, which researchers attributed to tablet users being younger and less risk-averse than older consumers.
How do crooks obtain your information? Still most common are traditional methods such as stolen wallets and "familiar frauds" where the victim knows the perpetrator who has access to statements or other legal documents.
What's your best defense?
For more information, read "Tax ID Theft: One Million Fraudulent Returns Expected" in the Home & Family Finance Resource Center.