Bank, Credit Card Company Say Not To Worry About Identity Theft

from the questionable-motives dept

Identity theft continues to be a problem for American consumers, with the recent news that the Massachusetts attorney general had fallen victim to it highlighting the general inability of government or industry to tackle the issue. Despite repeated leaks of credit-card and other personal information, and the scale of those leaks reaching new heights, a new study says that identity theft is actually becoming less prevalent. It says the number of people affected by identity theft or fraud decreased last year, as did total losses and the size of the average loss. It's probably worth noting that the study was paid for by Visa, Wells Fargo bank, and a check-processing company. Visa and Wells Fargo are no strangers to data leaks and identity theft, so you'd be forgiven for thinking they have just the slightest vested interest in downplaying the threat. To be fair, the company that did the survey isn't saying that identity theft is no longer a problem, but it's hard to see this as much more than an effort by the companies that paid for it to try and say the problem's not so bad. Perhaps the public has grown paranoid, but they should try telling that to victims, particularly those who spend lots of time dealing with identity theft's lingering effects.

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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 Feb 2007 @ 8:52am

    Banks have an interest in telling consumers that fraud is declining so that they can cause consumer confidence in online banking to go up. This will help them slowly remove all the real estate they are paying money for (having large banks on every street corner is not cheap).

    If Visa were to see less fraud, it would not necessarily mean that there is less fraud, but simply that it is being reported less often by merchants for whatever reason. Often times merchants don't want to report too much fraud because they can receive penalties from visa, so instead they will give the money back to the consumer and not alert visa.

    but, then again ... maybe there is less fraud :) My guess though would be that fraudsters are simply becoming harder to detect. For example, if a fraudster were to gain access to a bunch of accounts, in the past they might have tried to dump all of those accounts for the cash, and that would be reported. Instead they might now simply charge or transfer 10 dollars a month from each account, which would lower the chances of the account owner ever noticing.

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