Identity Theft Rising; Hits Record 10M Americans in 2008

Robert Siciliano Identity Theft Speaker 2/9/09

Number of fraud victims rises in 2008, but average loss per theft falls, according to a recent study. Article Here It should come as no surprise that identity theft incidents are climbing. Over the past year we have seen hundreds of data breaches resulting in millions and millions of records ripped out of small business to large enterprise networks. Many companies breached were simply irresponsible with the information they were entrusted with. Others were found to be compliant under various standards.

Still, the bleeding continues and as I have said numerous times, it will continue to get worse, it won’t get better and change wont take place until consumer credit is frozen across the board and citizens are properly identified.

A “fulz” is a term used in the underground, defined as an asset of information obtained by a “carder” or criminal hacker, which includes name, address, social security number (US primary identifier), and in some cases account and credit card numbers. A fulz is usually traded online in internet relay chatrooms by criminal hackers who become information brokers. They used to sell a fulz for a few hundred dollars per record, now they are as low as 20 dollars. Why? Supply. There are millions of records for sale. It would take identity thieves multiple lifetimes to get through all the information and turn it into cash.

In 2008 the number of victims rose 22% to a record 9.9 million in 2008 from 8.1 million a year earlier, with about one in 23 U.S. adults becoming victims. Contributing to the problem is the global economy. Desperate people are resorting to desperate acts. Familiar identity theft is when family, friends or coworkers steal IDs from those closest to them. A father and son who share a same name are perfect examples. A son could easily adopt his father’s social security number and open various accounts under his dad’s name. What makes this so easy is the son already has IDs with dad’s name, which he shares.

The study further shows that losses to the victims have dropped. Don’t get too excited, its not what I wound consider significant. It’s enough to acknowledge that consumers are recognizing their identity compromised quicker. Which means a bit of due diligence for the consumer. Good for them. However most are still ripe for the picking due to the fact they don’t take many active steps to lock down their information. That’s where tools such as fraud alert for free, but you have to renew every 90 days or pay a company to do it for you and its on-going hands off. Another option is a credit freeze which locks down your credit preventing even you from getting new credit until its thawed or unlocked.

The study further shows people who made more than $75,000 were more likely to be fraud victims. And the fraud rate was highest among people 35 to 44 years old, which makes sense. For most people, these are prime earning years.

It is important to point out the study was commissioned by 2 companies that benefit from the results. That said, I still believe in the results. I say this because I’m in the same space, and I receive calls and emails daily from victims. These are people that have been caned and waterboarded by identity thieves. Their lives have been abruptly invaded and they have an ongoing barrage of bill collectors and even law enforcement pursuing them because of the crimes of an impostor.

Here is an appearance discussing the same on Fox News

Robert Siciliano is CEO of he is a business builder, strategic marketer, security analyst, published author, television news correspondent. Delivers presentations on identity theft protection and personal security. Works with Fortune 1000, IT and startups. Launching, branding, messaging, representation, m&a facilitator, SEO and media. Current private equity projects include dynamic biometrics, credit card platform multi-factor authentication, identity theft security AAS, laptop tracking, security investigations and telemarketing fraud mitigation. Connect with him on LinkedIn

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