Identity Fraud Rose in 2011

The 2012 Javelin Strategy & Research Identity Fraud Report shows that the number of identity fraud incidents increased by 13 percent in 2011, totaling 11.6 million adult victims. The report also found that certain social media behaviors and increasing number of data breach incidents contributed to the overall amount of identity fraud instances in the United States over the past year.

Intersections Inc., a leading provider of consumer and corporate identity theft risk management services, and provider of the award-winning identity theft protection service, IDENTITY GUARD TOTAL PROTECTION(SM) , is a co-sponsor to the study for the fourth consecutive year.

"Intersections is pleased to once again be a co-sponsor for this year's Identity Fraud Report.  As a leading expert in the industry, it is a testament of our promise to continue to educate consumers on the dangers of identity theft and inform them of the steps they can take to help protect themselves from becoming a victim," said Steve Schwartz, executive vice president of Consumer Services for Intersections Inc. "The rise in victims and data breaches is a cause for concern for both consumers and businesses.  As more consumers turn to unconventional communication methods, such as social media and smartphones, doing so in a safe and responsible way must now become a priority."

"We are excited to have Intersections support this important study for the fourth year in a row," said Jim Van Dyke, president and founder of Javelin Strategy & Research. "Our research clearly indicates that consumers who are using identity protection services are experiencing a reduction in fraud costs compared to all consumers. And for those that do experience fraud, the resolution time on these fraud cases is lower as well."

The Findings

Identity fraud incidents have increased. According to the report findings, victims of a data breach were 9.5 times more likely to be a victim of identity fraud.  With a staggering 67 percent increase in data breach victims in 2011, this notable increase directly correlates with the increase in identity fraud victims. 

  • Costs remain steady. Despite the increasing number of identity fraud victims in 2011, the total dollar amount tied to losses remained steady. More stringent authentication practices by financial institutions and increased consumer awareness efforts by government and financial institutions likely helped keep these costs from rising.
  • As the report finds, electronic monitoring of accounts through the Internet, ATM or other electronic means is the leading way of detecting fraud over reviewing paper records. Approximently 54 percent of victims were notified they had been a victim of identity theft by their financial institution, law enforcement, etc.
  • Consumers who actively engage with social media and utilize a smartphone were found to have a disproportionate rate of identity fraud than consumers who do not engage in these mediums.

Intersections' Insight and Recommendations

The findings in this year's study indicate that fraudsters are taking advantage of consumers' increased use of social networks, and hacking into large businesses where many identities are housed in one place. As these criminals continue to evolve in finding new ways to retrieve personal information, it is imperative that consumers remain consistent and committed to protecting their identity.

  • Protect Your Information. Exposing common information like birthdates and addresses puts consumers at a greater risk as these elements are commonly used by financial institutions for security questions and validation of identity to access accounts. Even such seemingly harmless information could be valuable to experienced identity thieves.
  • Be Social, But Be Smart. Knowing that social networks are a hotbed for identity fraud activity, consumers should take extra care when deciding who to connect with and what applications to accept. Users that approve friend requests from strangers and use GPS/location based applications are far more susceptible to fraud.
  • Take Caution with Mobile Computing. The convenience of online and mobile banking is here to stay, but consumers need to take the extra step of ensuring their network connection is secure and their devices have updated security.
  • Be an Active Party in Detection. Consumers must take the responsibility of protecting their identities into their own hands.  By enrolling in a comprehensive identity protection service like IDENTITY GUARD TOTAL PROTECTION(SM), consumers have the extra security they need to help keep them protected.
  • Act Quickly. The sooner a victim learns of the fraud, the sooner their road to recovery can begin, so consumers must remain alert and act quickly in the event that they notice suspicious activity, reporting it to their financial institutions and law enforcement.

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