In spite of increasing awareness of identity theft, identity fraud continues to be a lucrative career for thieves, which means that there is more of a threat to you.
"Identity theft is like the never-ending story," said Linda Foley, Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC) Founder. "It acts like an oil spill that spreads in yet another direction with the ocean currents and wind despite best efforts to contain it."
The ITRC conducts an annual review of the result of identity theft and predictions for the next year. Their research found that identity theft is on the rise, and continues to pose serious threats to the victims. Over half (57%) of the 2007 sample reported that a new line of credit was being opened using their personal information. All areas of criminal identity theft combined increased between 2006 and 2007. Notably, check fraud and debit card fraud continue to increase. Scams have also become more of a problem in 2007 than in previous years.
In 2007, 82% of victims discovered the identity theft through some sort of adverse action, while only 10% found out thanks to proactive measures. One ITRC analyst believes that people found out more quickly because of more aggressive actions, such as credit monitoring and mail list removal.
Respondents in 2007 spent an average of $559.30 in out-of-pocket expenses for damage to an existing account, and $1,865.27 for new accounts, $523 more than 2006. But victims report more than just monetary problems, including increased insurance rates, credit card interest rates, and criminal records not being cleared. Also, 53% of victims have collection agencies still calling them, and 18% have suffered in their ability to get a job. Another adverse affect not often acknowledged is emotional impact. About half of the 2007 respondents reported an increase in family stress.
While the ITRC hopes their predictions for the future are incorrect, they can t help but report some negative trends and suggest a bad forecast for new victims of identity theft. They predict that identity theft will continue to grow more international and scams become more sophisticated and harder to detect.
What does all this mean for the average person? If identity theft continues to be a problem won t more legislative action be taken? Will a greater recognition of identity fraud as a crime mean more law enforcement? Won t businesses develop and utilize stronger, more effective ways to verify the identity of applicants? We hope so, but aren t willing to wait and find out. While no identity theft protection program can guarantee that identity theft won t happen to you, it s great to have a proactive service to protect your good name where possible. In the event of a security breach, it would be nice to have additional assistance in recovery and resolution.
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