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Monday, January 29, 2007

Survey: 2 of 5 Identity Theft Victims Know Source of Crime

Two out of five identity theft victims surveyed by the Identity Theft Assistance Center (ITAC) know how their personal data was stolen, providing valuable insight about how identity theft occurs.

"This information is important because the more we know about the sources of identity theft the more successful we all will be in fighting this crime," says ITAC Executive Director Anne Wallace. "These documented cases provide real world perspective on identity theft."

ITAC surveyed 275 identity theft victims who used the ITAC's free service over a one-month period. Of the 275 cases, 160 consumers (58%) did not know the source of their identity theft. Another 115 consumers (42%) did know how their information was compromised. The 115 consumers attributed their identity theft to the following sources:

-- Friends, relatives, in-home employees 26 cases 22.61%
-- Computer hacker/virus/phishing 25 cases 21.74%
-- Mail (stolen or fraudulent address change) 24 cases 20.87%
-- Lost/stolen wallet, checkbook or credit card 15 cases 13.04%
-- Corrupt business or employee 12 cases 10.43%
-- Data breach 8 cases 6.96%
-- House burglarized 4 cases 3.48%
-- Instant credit 1 case 0.87%

Getting accurate information about the sources of identity theft is difficult because identity theft -- the opening of a fraudulent new account or account takeover -- is often confused with other types of fraud, like the unauthorized use of a credit card, accoding to ITAC.

ITAC says it is in a unique position to gatherdata about identity theft because it deals in verified cases of identity theft. The companies that belong to ITAC refer customers to ITAC once thefraud is resolved at the member company. ITAC then helps the customer identify other fraudulent accounts and assists in restoring their financial identity.

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