Column at Washington Post: Identity-theft statistics look better, but you still don’t want to be one
At the Washington Post, columnist Michelle Singletary writes about identity theft and the costs that can arise for innocent victims:
The good news is that last year the number of people victimized decreased 28 percent, to 8.1 million, according to a report by Javelin Strategy & Research. Although that’s still a huge number, it’s 3 million fewer victims than in 2009. Overall losses from identity fraud also fell last year, to $37 billion, from $56 billion in 2009. […]
For eight years, Javelin has been tracking trends in identity theft, helping to keep a national focus on this category of crime. Last year, the plummet in the crime was the largest annual decrease since Javelin started tracking it in 2003.
So, what’s different? For one thing, there has been a significant drop in data breaches, or situations in which batches of personal information have become vulnerable to identity thieves. The number of breaches last year was down by almost one-third, to 407 incidents, or 26 million records exposed, according to the DataLossDB project. Again, still a huge number, but at least it’s down – from 604 breaches, or 221 million records exposed, in 2009. […]
Shadowing the good news in the Javelin report were two not-so-good details.
The average out-of-pocket expense for victims increased 63 percent from, $387 per incident in 2009 to $631 in 2010. […]
Javelin also found that “friendly fraud” grew 7 percent. That’s the term for identity theft committed by someone known to the victim. People 25 to 34 years old are most likely to be victims of this type of fraud.
Read the full column for tips on how to protect yourself against identity theft.