IDENTITY THEFT UP 50% IN RECENT SURVEY
15 million Americans were victimized by some sort of identity-theft related fraud in the 12 months ending in mid-2006, according to a survey by Gartner, Inc. Gartner’s survey is contradictory to the credit card company funded surveys indicating a 10% decrease in the crime for a similar period. The new survey revealed more than a 50 percent increase since 2003 when the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reported 9.9 million American adult identity theft victims.
“Hackers are exploiting Internet auctions, nonregulated money transmittal systems, the ability to impersonate lottery and sweepstake contests, and other types of imaginative scams,” said Avivah Litan, analyst at Gartner. “The thieves have also discovered the weakest links in the U.S. payments systems. Typically, the weak links are found among the five or more million businesses that accept electronic payments from consumers, and the consumers themselves.”
In the past two years KnightsBridge Castle has seen enormous inconsistency in surveys attempting to characterize identity theft crime growth. The FTC has indicated that the crime is diminishing. The credit card company sponsored surveys have also indicated a small decline in the crime. On the other hand Federal Banking officials have completed a study indicating a 103% increase in mortgage fraud facilitated by identity theft for the same time period. Now we have Gartner’s report of a 50% increase.
These survey inconsistencies can sometimes be explained through examining the survey firms definition of identity theft. The FTC survey exclusively focuses on credit card crimes, thus ignoring identity crimes in false employment, IRS fraud, medical benefits fraud, and more than 70 other frauds facilitated through identity theft. The credit card company sponsored surveys are in our opinion biased and are funded to allow the credit companies to assure the public that new security measures are working to stem this crime wave.
While we lack the survey facilities of the FTC, Gartner, and the credit card companies, we do feel that we have a good feel for the state of identity theft in the USA. In our opinion this crime wave continues unabated, and if anything the Gartner survey may understate the real rate of growth both in the US and through out the world.