Identity fraud reaches new high

Posted by Emma Woollacott

Identity fraud is rocketing, according to a survey from Javelin Strategy & Research, and victims are getting increasingly vengeful.

The number of victims in the US shot up by 12 percent to 11.1 million adults in 2009, while the total annual fraud amount increased by 12.5 percent to $54 billion.

But organisations are getting better at sorting it out, with the average time taken to resolve identity fraud dropping 30 percent to 21 hours.

Half of all victims filed a police report, and there were double the reported arrests, triple the prosecutions, and double the percentage of convictions in 2009 than in the year before.

"The 2010 Identity Fraud Survey Report shows that fraud increased for the second straight year and is at the highest rate since Javelin began this report in 2003," said Javelin president James Van Dyke.

"The good news is consumers are getting more aggressive in monitoring, detecting and preventing fraud with the help of technology and partnerships with financial institutions, government agencies and resolution services."

Other findings show that fraudsters are becoming cleverer and cleverer with technology.

New fraudulent online accounts more than doubled over the previous year, and the number of new email payment accounts increased 12 percent. This year, for the first time, the survey asked about new mobile phone account fraud - finding that 29 percent of new account frauds were mobile phone accounts.

Financial institutions and businesses are - some would say rather tardily - now minimizing the use of Social Security numbers in account information and being a bit more proactive in monitoring and notifying customers of possible fraudulent activity, says Javelin.