According to Javelin Strategy & Research, which recently released its 2007 Identity Fraud Survey Report, young people and those earning more than $150,000 are the most likely victims of identity theft.
Young adults between the ages of 18 and 24 are at the greatest risk for identity fraud because they are the least likely to take safeguards such as shredding documents and using anti-virus software and firewalls. More than 5% of those surveyed in this age group reported having been victimized.
Of those who responded, more than 7% with annual incomes above $150,000 said that they had been victims of identity theft. The researchers also found that this group is twice as likely to not use paper statements and bills. Instead, they opt for electronic bills, which is a method of preventing fraud. They are also 65% more likely to monitor their accounts online, which allows them to spot a fraudulent event before large amounts of money are lost.
The survey also revealed that Americans earning less than $15,000 are the least likely to be victims of identity fraud. Only 2.8% of those polled reported being victims. However, this group takes the longest to discover fraud when it happens. It takes them on average 70% more time for them to detect a fraud than it does for higher income populations. These victims spent an average of 44 hours resolving the fraud. Lower income victims are also more than twice as likely to cut their overall spending, nearly three times more likely to not purchase merchandise online, and three times more likely to refuse to bank online.
Research showed that 500,000 fewer adults in the United States were victims of identity fraud in 2006 than in 2005. Only 3.7% of adults were victims in 2006, compared with 4% in 2005. This is a continuation of the annual decrease in this type of crime that has been occurring since data was first collected in 2003. In that year, 4.7% of the adult population was victimized.
There has also been a significant reduction in the incidents of new account fraud reported in the past 12 months. This fraud happens when criminals use a victim’s personal data to establish a new account. Such fraud dropped from 1.5% in 2006 to 1% in 2007. Additionally, when fraudulent accounts were opened, many victims caught it quicker because of the ability to view statements online. The average fraud amounts dropped from more than $10,000 in 2006 to $7,260 in 2007. Survey respondents said that resolution times had also improved significantly. It took 25 hours to resolve a fraudulent event in 2006, compared with only 5 hours in 2007.