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News

Continued ID Theft Diligence advised by the ITRC

Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC) : 23 December, 2009  (Technical Article)
Significant increases in predictions of Identity Theft cases prompts the ITRC to provide a message advising increased diligence during 2010 to prevent identity theft
As we enter into the New Year, it is vitally important that consumers and businesses alike remember the need to be continuously diligent about protecting personal identifying information. The ITRC predicts an increase in identity theft and related crimes over the next two years unless significant changes are made in information security (2010 Trends). Many of us are growing tired of hearing about it. But, the fact that we are tired does not make the impact of the crime any less significant on either the victim or our society at large.

There have been several studies conducted over the past few years reporting on the annual number of victims of identity theft - with results reported ranging from 8 to 15 million cases a year. The ITRC has always felt that these studies largely focused on financial identity theft issues, and didn't accurately reflect the whole gamut of cases, especially the tough to repair governmental and criminal identity theft cases. We also felt that these difficult cases were largely under reported, since there was no effective manner of even determining how many victims had criminal and governmental problems with their cases.

Since July 1, 2009, the ITRC has responded to more than 4,400 identity theft victim cases. At that time, the ITRC began tracking a variety of attributes attached to these identity cases (other than financial), such as "governmental", criminal, child identity theft, internet takeover and medical identity theft. These attributes are not "self reported" by the victims, but are recorded by knowledgeable victim advisors as they help the victims mitigate their cases. This is a much more accurate method of determining just what types of identity theft are involved in a particular victim case. Nearly 38% of the victims (7/1/2009 to 12/21/2009) were identified as having serious non-financial attributes to their case. Six months of data, over 4400 cases is certainly enough to see some trends. The ITRC sees this as a strong indication that more complex cases of identity theft are increasing as a percentage of all cases. If this is the case, we can state that these cases will not be as easily mitigated by the victims without expert assistance.

ITRC expects that our tracking of actual victim case data will provide a new insight into the fabric of identity theft victimization, and we are anticipating some surprises concerning the relevance (or not) of some types of cases which have had significant press focus. Remember, these statistics are being compiled from identity theft victims only. They are referred to the ITRC by a variety of methods, and are located all across the U.S. They represent a reasonable account of what is happening across the country as a whole.
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