ODing on ID theft

Identity theft has been called the fastest-growing crime in America. The following figures, compiled by the Federal Trade Commission, reflect the social cost of identity theft in 2002 alone. Most cases of ID theft were discovered by the victim through monitoring of personal accounts. Once discovered, the most effective way to stop future theft is to have the three major credit agencies attach a “fraud alert” to one’s identity. The most common source of misused personal information is from lost or stolen wallets and purses.

Americans victimized by ID theft 10 million

Average haul for ID thieves $4,800

Average haul when a new account was created $10,200

Total cost to businesses $47.6 billion

Percent of victims with no out-of-pocket expense* 67 percent

Average time spent per victim resolving issue 30 hours

Total hours Americans spent resolving ID theft 300 million

Percent of victims who knew their ID assailant 26 percent

Victims whose info was stolen but not used for theft 15 percent

Victims whose info was used for 6 months or more 13 percent

Percent of victims who report ID theft to police 25 percent

Percent of victims who notify credit bureaus 22 precent

*When discovered within six months. The faster ID theft is discovered, the less time and money it will take to resolve.