Identity fraud in the US rose 13% in 2011
Identity fraud is defined as the unauthorized use of another person’s personal information to achieve illicit financial gain. In October 2011, Javelin Strategy & Research conducted an address-based survey of 5,022 U.S. consumers to identify important findings about the impact of fraud, uncover areas of progress, and identify areas in which consumers must exercise continued vigilance.
The survey found four overall fraud trends:
- Identity fraud incidents increased, amount stolen remained steady: consumer out-of-pocket costs have decreased by 44% since 2004, likely due to the improved prevention and detection tools that have come available as well as fraud alerts leading to reduced detection time.
- Social behaviors put consumers at risk: Javelin examined. Social media and mobile phone behaviors and identified certain social and mobile behaviors that had higher incidence rates of fraud than all consumers. LinkedIn, Google+, Twitter and Facebook users had the highest incidence of fraud although there is no proof of direct causation. Specifically, 68% of people with public social media profiles shared their birthday information (with 45% sharing month, date and year); 63% shared their high school name; 18% shared their phone number; and 12% shared their pet’s name, all are prime examples of personal information a company would use to verify your identity.
- Smartphone owners experience greater incidence of fraud—The survey found 7% of smartphone owners were victims of identity fraud. This is a third higher incidence rate compared to the general public.
- Data Breaches increasing and more damaging — One likely contributing factor to the fraud increase was the 67% increase in the number of Americans impacted by data breaches compared to 2010. Javelin Strategy & Research found victims of data breaches are 9.5 times more likely to be a victim of identity fraud than consumers who did not receive such a data breach letter.