Home > Identity Theft > Identity Theft Cases Spiked in 2012

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The number of identity theft cases has been growing steadily in the past decade, and that trend continued in 2012, as millions of people were affected by the crime, and millions more were exposed to its potential.

Over the course of 2012, there were 12.6 million cases of identity fraud in the U.S. alone, up from 11.6 million in 2011, according to the 2013 Identity Fraud Report issued by Javelin Strategy and Research. That was also the second-highest total seen since 2005, trailing only 2009’s 13.9 million incidents. The total cost of 2012’s fraud came to $20.9 billion, up significantly from the previous year’s $18 billion but also down from levels seen prior to 2009.

“This past year [had] both successes and setbacks for consumers, institutions and fraudsters,” said Jim Van Dyke, CEO of Javelin Strategy and Research. “Consumers and institutions are now starting to act as partners — detecting and stopping fraud faster than ever before. But fraudsters are acting quicker than ever before and victimizing more consumers. Consumers must take data breach notifications more seriously and maintain vigilance to safeguard personal information, especially Social Security numbers.”

In all, one person in the U.S. was hit by identity fraud every three seconds last year, and one in every four people who received notifications that their personal information was exposed in a data breach was later victimized, the report said. Further, those whose Social Security numbers were exposed in such an incident were also five times more likely to be victimized by identity theft than those who didn’t have that data exposed.

In addition, 15 percent of all people who were previously victimized by fraud became far more careful about where they did their shopping, for fear that this type of crime would impact them again in the future, the report said. As such, many changed their shopping behaviors and began avoiding smaller online retailers, while largely continuing to patronize gaming sites and larger companies, which are also susceptible to this type of crime.

Identity theft can cause havoc for all aspects of a victim’s finances, as it can lead to thousands of dollars in debt or more that they will need to resolve, and likely also significantly lower their credit scores at the same time. For this reason, borrowers should always closely check over their financial statements and credit reports to better detect signs of fraud.

Image: iStockphoto

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  • http://www.budgetforwealth.com Long @ Budget For Wealth

    I think people need to be more wary about about giving out sensitive personal information over e-mail or unsecure platforms and send e-mails that sound too good to be true to their spam folder.

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  • Ronnie

    the police shouldnt have it either. im proff of that. it was a cop that gave mine out

  • Paula Charron

    Buy identity theft protection with credit restoration services. Not just monitoring but complete restoration. LegalShield is the only plan out there that offers full restoration. Its a good plan and very cost effective!

    • David Chapman

      As a victim of identity theft, I can tell you that once you social security number has been compromised, your battle will never end. Even after freezing your credit, the people that have your SSN will give it out when they go to the emergency room, utility companies, and all of the above referenced people that ask for it on the street. When those people default on whatever agreement they brokered with your SSN, the debt eventually gets sold to a collection agency. Once that happens, it affects your credit report, the privacy you thought you had, and becomes an almost insurmountable burden. I’ve ALMOST got my credit problem-free, but it has taken about 13 years. A big heads up for people wanting to protect themselves: If you google your name and find pertinent results, you are vulnerable.

      With the cross-referencing of so many database companies, one error becomes a cancer that speads like wildfire unless you attack it with a vengeance. Tips that have helped me resolve my problem over the years:

      1. Unlist your phone numbers. If someone has a similar name to yours, they can use your name/number as a residence.

      2. Any sites that have your information, such as spokeo, whoami, whitepages, and the like, request that your information be removed. By law, they have to honor that request.

      3. If you’re protecting yourself, make sure to google other family members living with you. If their data is out there and they have mentioned you, the wound will keep re-opening every time a credit agency or the misinformation sites update their data.

      4. Don’t for a second think that if you receive a collection notice, you can call the collection agency and dispute it. Every call a collection agency gets starts out with “this is an error”, “this isn’t my debt”, or “this must be a mistake.” Take a wild guess on how user-friendly the customer service people are. Should you ever arrive in this unfortunate situation, immediately ask to talk to a manager. You must tell them you will stay on hold, because the manager is never immediately available and they will never call you back. Always begin your conversation by recording the person’s name you’re talking to. People behave much more politely when they know there could be repercussions. And I almost forgot the most important thing if you have to call a collection agency: “BLOCK YOUR PHONE NUMBER” from showing up on their caller ID. I forgot it once and got harassed for a few weeks until I finally got it resolved. Never let the collection agency know what your name is or your personal data so they can correct it. Any information you give them for “clarification” will be added to their database and shared throughout the community. Simply let them know that you don’t know the person, you are not the person, and you have never met or lived with the person.

      5. Besides freezing your credit, file a claim with the FTC. They’ll give you a report number. Any correspondence you send to any collection agency should reference this report number.

      6. Start keeping a file with as much relevant data as possible. Your problem will not be solved overnight. It WILL take years to completely resolve, if that is even possible. The damage can be controlled if you pull your credit annually and attack any errors with a vengenace.

      I’m certainly NOT stating that protection plans aren’t useful. They can prevent someone from opening an account in your name. However, they cannot prevent someone from infiltrating your credit. Dealing with commercial banks and lending agencies is pretty easy because you usually deal with professional people. Although some collection agents may start out professional, the constant harassment they receive from every caller erodes away their “glass half full” mentality. Never lose your temper with them; they’re simply reacting in a manner that they get conditioned for.

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  • David Chapman

    As a victim of identity theft, I can tell you that once you social security number has been compromised, your battle will never end. Even after freezing your credit, the people that have your SSN will give it out when they go to the emergency room, utility companies, and all of the above referenced people that ask for it on the street. When those people default on whatever agreement they brokered with your SSN, the debt eventually gets sold to a collection agency. Once that happens, it affects your credit report, the privacy you thought you had, and becomes an almost insurmountable burden. I’ve ALMOST got my credit problem-free, but it has taken about 13 years. A big heads up for people wanting to protect themselves: If you google your name and find pertinent results, you are vulnerable.

    With the cross-referencing of so many database companies, one error becomes a cancer that speads like wildfire unless you attack it with a vengeance. Tips that have helped me resolve my problem over the years:

    1. Unlist your phone numbers. If someone has a similar name to yours, they can use your name/number as a residence.

    2. Any sites that have your information, such as spokeo, whoami, whitepages, and the like, request that your information be removed. By law, they have to honor that request.

    3. If you’re protecting yourself, make sure to google other family members living with you. If their data is out there and they have mentioned you, the wound will keep re-opening every time a credit agency or the misinformation sites update their data.

    4. Don’t for a second think that if you receive a collection notice, you can call the collection agency and dispute it. Every call a collection agency gets starts out with “this is an error”, “this isn’t my debt”, or “this must be a mistake.” Take a wild guess on how user-friendly the customer service people are. Should you ever arrive in this unfortunate situation, immediately ask to talk to a manager. You must tell them you will stay on hold, because the manager is never immediately available and they will never call you back. Always begin your conversation by recording the person’s name you’re talking to. People behave much more politely when they know there could be repercussions. And I almost forgot the most important thing if you have to call a collection agency: “BLOCK YOUR PHONE NUMBER” from showing up on their caller ID. I forgot it once and got harassed for a few weeks until I finally got it resolved. Never let the collection agency know what your name is or your personal data so they can correct it. Any information you give them for “clarification” will be added to their database and shared throughout the community. Simply let them know that you don’t know the person, you are not the person, and you have never met or lived with the person.

    5. Besides freezing your credit, file a claim with the FTC. They’ll give you a report number. Any correspondence you send to any collection agency should reference this report number.

    6. Start keeping a file with as much relevant data as possible. Your problem will not be solved overnight. It WILL take years to completely resolve, if that is even possible. The damage can be controlled if you pull your credit annually and attack any errors with a vengenace.

    I’m certainly NOT stating that protection plans aren’t useful. They can prevent someone from opening an account in your name. However, they cannot prevent someone from infiltrating your credit. Dealing with commercial banks and lending agencies is pretty easy because you usually deal with professional people. Although some collection agents may start out professional, the constant harassment they receive from every caller erodes away their “glass half full” mentality. Never lose your temper with them; they’re simply reacting in a manner that they get conditioned for.

    For the record – 99% clean after initial hit in 1999.

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