How Common is Identity Theft?
by Deborah L. Alexander
Identity theft is a growing problem. In fact, it is the fastest growing crime in the United States. There are many different types of identity theft and some types are growing faster than others.
New Account Fraud
New account fraud means that someone has opened a new credit account in your name. In 2008, new account fraud cost $18 billion. It accounts for 22 percent of all ID fraud.
Existing Account Fraud
Existing account fraud occurs when someone hijacks an account that is already opened. Most commonly, this happens when an address is changed on a credit card. Existing account fraud cost $31 billion in 2008. It accounts for 38 percent of all ID fraud.
Non-Credit Related Identity Theft
Thieves can also steal your Social Security number, your driver's license information or other non-credit related information. Once they have this information, they can work using your SSN, obtain false documents and incur criminal records that will appear to be yours. This type of fraud accounts for 40 percent of all fraud.
One Year Totals
More than 9 million Americans were subject to fraud in 2008.
Data breaches occur when a company's records about their customers are compromised. More than 127 million pieces of consumer information were exposed by security breaches in 2007.
In 2007, the average cost of clearing up fraud for an individual was $700. This amount was 20 percent more than the year before and will continue to grow.