ID Fraud Facts Released: Now Let the Speculation Begin!

We’ve just released our eighth annual Identity Fraud Survey Report, based on the Federal Trade Commission’s original 2003 survey methodology that we’ve deployed in Javelin surveys every year since. We are grateful to Fiserv, Intersections and Wells Fargo for choosing to sponsor this research, which is independently designed, fielded, tabulated and distributed to news media before these co-sponsors even see the final copy!). We also acknowledge the Better Business Bureau again partnering with us in the release of this report, to help businesses strengthen their security practices. Security against identity fraud requires an informed team effort.

The 95-page report is based on some 50 structured questions that are asked of US nationally-representative adults at the same time and via the same (random digit dialing) method each year. [Johnny law take note: members of U.S. government law enforcement  are entitled to a copy, thanks to the sponsorship by Fiserv, Intersections and Wells Fargo.]

Like a swiftly-moving river, identity fraud takes dramatic turns every year. Sometimes the volume is higher and sometimes it’s lower, but it’s ever-changing pattern calls for new responses by bankers, merchants, tech vendors, law enforcement, policy-makers and more. Changes in the economy, security practices, technology systems and devices, consumer behaviors or attitudes, regulations,  and payments (whew!) assure that fraud will always change. I love longitudinal research because it amplifies changes, allowing experts to change priorities in response. Our researchers stopped collecting data just a few months ago, working long hours to get a quality report released while the changes are still fresh (nice job, team!).

If previous years’ releases are a good indicator, we’ll soon see other experts emerge with their points of view about trends in identity fraud. If you’re reading this and have a different opinion about identity fraud, we welcome hearing your point of view. As a researcher, I’ll instinctively separate each comment into one of two camps: those those based on fact and those based on mere opinion. (I’ve no shortage of opinion either, but we’re all better off when I don’t pass it off as fact.) We learn from our audience all the time!

Our nationally-representative (NR by age, gender, income and income) of US adults gave us highly-specific answers to our questions, and those answers reveal information such as the following:

  • Overall incidents of fraudulent transactions committed in another person’s name are down sharply
  • The cost to consumers rose, both in aggregate and on an average-victim basis
  • New account fraud (sometimes called simply “identity theft”) now makes up a greater proportion. These crimes also result in a greater impact to individuals, financial institutions and merchants.
  • ID fraud in existing payment cards is down sharply
  • Data breaches are down in quantity, but victims of a breach are more likely to encounter fraud
  • Rising problems include account takeover, friendly fraud, seniors failing to use privacy settings on social networks. An evergreen problem is too few consumers failing to protect their data, ranging from lack of anti-malware software on personal devices, mailing of paper checks or financial statements, and flimsy passwords online. We also need to get more consumers monitoring their personal details, ranging from use of credentials to potentially open new accounts to providing text alerts with merchant name and dollar amount for every single transaction. (And can we stop claiming that consumers aren’t motivated to protect themselves as a way of defending our arduous procedures, disclaimer notices and over-complicated new technology already?)
  • Last finding in our press release: there has been an inverse relationship between the incidence rate of ID fraud and retail sales in the US, meaning that for the last eight years ID fraud has dropped just as our researchers have done elsewhere.

Some 5,000 nationally-representative individuals have spoken, and the results are clear. Let the response begin!

Category: Fraud and Security


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  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Javelin Strategy, John Dumfries. John Dumfries said: RT @JavelinStrategy: ID Fraud Facts Released: Now Let the Speculation Begin!: a blog by J. Van Dyke […]

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