Type of Identity Theft - Identity Theft Statistics
Stealing your personal information is only the first step in the criminal process. After the information is
gathered, the thief must then convert that information into a means by which he or she can profit. One popular
method is to simply call a credit card issuer with whom you do business, posing as you. They change the billing
address for the card and then begin to make a series of purchases. They may even request and receive a duplicate
card if their "research" shows you rarely use your own. In many cases, enough time can pass before the victim
realizes what has happened to make this strategy quite lucrative for a criminal.
Another strategy is to use your information to apply for additional lines of credit. Bills and documentation
never end up making it to your address, so you may not know this is happening until it is too late. More than one
victim has found that tens of thousands of dollars were ran up on credit cards in their names without even having
the slightest idea the accounts existed at all.
This technique is not limited to credit card use. Some criminals have gone so far as to actually open bank
accounts with the stolen information. Shortly thereafter, they acquire goods and services by writing a series of
bad checks that come back to haunt the identity theft victim.
Identity thieves may establish utility or cellular phone service in your name. Some even acquire leases under a
victim's identity. They receive car loans with false identities and use stolen personas to avoid paying taxes.
Imagine you are a horrible person with no sense of remorse. Now, imagine that you have been given an opportunity
to access hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of goods, services and cash. What would you do? Don't be fooled,
unless you did a great job of play acting, a real identity thief can think of even more ways to profit
Identity theft ruins lives. It creates a seemingly infinite number of short term problems and can then have
massive impacts that can linger for decades. Even if the risk of identity theft is relatively slight, the impact of
the crime is so incredibly severe that we must all take efforts to protect ourselves.
To make matter worse, offenses are growing rapidly and cut across all portions of our society.
Identity Theft Statistics
In the US, the Federal Trade Commission's Consumer Sentinel collects information about consumer fraud and
identity theft from the FTC and over 150 other organizations, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S.
Secret Service, fourteen Attorney Generals Offices, and various State and local law enforcement agencies.
According to the FTC report, National and State Trends in Fraud & Identity Theft, January to December 2004
(2005), the Consumer Sentinel received over 635,000 consumer fraud and identity theft complaints between January
and December 2004.
Findings from an analysis of those complaints include:
- Of the more than 635,000 complaints received during calendar year 2004, 61% represented fraud and 39% were
identity theft complaints.
- "Credit card fraud (28%) was the most common form of reported identity theft followed by phone or utilities
fraud (19%), bank fraud (18%), and employment fraud (13%). Other significant categories of identity theft
reported by victims were government documents/benefits fraud and loan fraud."
- "The percentage of complaints about "Electronic Fund Transfer" related identity theft more than doubled
between 2002 and 2004."
Do not assume that identity theft will not happen to you.