2012 Identity Fraud Industry Report: Social Media and Mobile Forming the New Fraud Frontier

2012 Identity Fraud Industry Report
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In 2011, identity fraud increased by 13 percent. More than 11.6 million adults became victims of identity fraud in the United States, while the dollar amount stolen held steady. Despite the increase, total fraud amount has not moved in tandem, staying steady from the previous year. The increase in existing card account fraud, which enjoys the lowest mean fraud amount of the three major types of fraud, has been the root of this disparate movement. Javelin has taken a deep look into emerging technologies such as social media sites and mobile devices to see how their increasing ubiquity has affected user risk.  This report identifies important findings about the impact of fraud, uncover areas of progress, and identify areas in which consumers must exercise continued vigilance.

This survey is co-sponsored by organizations committed to educating and helping consumers and businesses reduce their risk of identity fraud including Fiserv, Inc., Intersections Inc. and Wells Fargo & Company.  Sponsors partially underwrite Javelin’s cost of data collection, analysis and reporting in return for having their organization cited in the release of the study. Javelin retains complete independence of data analysis and reporting, and the report has been created solely by Javelin employees.

Javelin’s ninth annual Identity Fraud Report is the most comprehensive research study of the subject in the United States. It assesses the effectiveness of methods used for fraud prevention, detection and resolution and provides the basis for fact‐based benchmarking and recommendations.


Selected Key Findings

  • Identity fraud incidents increased, amount stolen remained steady—The number of identity fraud incidents increased by 13 percent over the past year, but the dollar amount stolen remained steady. Additionally, consumer out-of-pocket costs have decreased by 44 percent since 2004, likely due to the improved prevention and detection tools that have come available as well as fraud alerts leading to reduced detection time.
  • Social behaviors put consumers at risk—For the first time, Javelin examined. social media and mobile phone behaviors and identified certain social and mobile behaviors that had higher incidence rates of fraud than all consumers.  Despite warnings that social networks are a great resource for fraudsters, consumers are still sharing a significant amount of personal information frequently used to authenticate a consumer’s identity. Surprisingly those with public profiles (those visible to everyone) were more likely to expose this personal information. Specifically, 68 percent of people with public social media profiles shared their birthday information (with 45 percent sharing month, date and year); 63 percent shared their high school name; 18 percent shared their phone number; and 12 percent shared their pet’s name—­all are prime examples of personal information a company would use to verify your identity.
  • Smartphone owners experience greater incidence of fraud—The survey found seven percent of smartphone owners were victims of identity fraud. This isa 1/3rd higher incidence rate compared to the general public. Part of this increase may be attributable to consumer behavior: 32 percent of smartphone owners do not update to a new operating system when it becomes available; 62 percent do not use a password on their home screen—enabling anyone to access their information if the phone is lost; and 32 percent save login information on their device
  • Data Breaches increasing and more damaging — One likely contributing factor to the fraud increase was the 67 percent increase in the number of Americans impacted by data breaches compared to 2010. Javelin Strategy & Research found victims of data breaches are 9.5 times more likely to be a victim of identity fraud than consumers who did not receive such a data breach letter.



A representative sample of 5,022 U.S. adults, including 818 fraud victims, providing insight into this crime and its effect on victims. This report is supported by the Better Business Bureau, issued as a longitudinal update to the Javelin 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2010 Identity Fraud reports and the Federal Trade Commission’s 2003 report.


Price: $3000 (81 pages; 52 charts/graphs)


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