Low-Tech Methods Get The Blame For Most Identity Fraud

from the methodology dept

A new research study says that identity fraud rose 22 percent in 2008 from the previous year, blaming lost or stolen wallets, not data breaches, for the majority of incidents. It's important to note the terminology here: the group that conducted the research considers identity fraud -- when stolen information is actually used for financial gain -- as distinct from identity theft, which is simply when identity information is stolen. It stands to reason, then, that the occurrence of identity theft is actually far higher. Also, the numbers on how criminals obtained the information may be slightly skewed. Respondents to the survey were asked if they knew how their information was stolen, and only 35% responded that they did. Of that 35%, only 22% said it was stolen online or via a data leak. Again, it stands to reason that people whose information was stolen because their wallet was lifted or lost, or via some other noticeable method, would be more aware of it than if, say, a retailer gave up their credit card number or other info. Also, is it helpful to consider a pickpocket using a stolen credit card to be analogous to a massive data breach? While the end result might be similar for affected consumers, the method of the crime, as well as the reasons why it was allowed to happen, are very, very different. To equate pickpocketing to data breaches runs the risk of underemphasizing the risk that slack corporate or governmental security poses to large numbers of people. Gee, that doesn't sound familiar, does it?

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    Rick, Feb 11th, 2009 @ 11:21pm



    Do you think you might learn how to use a 'paragraph' once in awhile?

    It might help improve the understanding of your poor writing skills.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    DL, Feb 12th, 2009 @ 4:07am

    Re: Huh?

    Evry1 hIdE! Teh GrAmmEr PoliCEz r oN PatrOL!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 12th, 2009 @ 5:34am

    Although if you look at the data differently

    They did not include the latest identity fraud on wall street, you know ... the ones who are acting like they know what they are doing and all.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 12th, 2009 @ 5:56am

    Ok, some math I don't understand, you said that only 35% of the people said that they knew how their info was stolen, and 22% said it was stolen online, that only leaves 13% to be stolen physically through stolen wallets. Now I did try to RTFA, but I didn't see any of those stats in TFA.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 12th, 2009 @ 8:23am


    he said it was 22% of that 35% that knew. So only 7.7% knew it was stolen online, if my math is correct.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Mr Paul, Feb 12th, 2009 @ 9:33am

    Identity Theft

    Identity Theft is not "simply when identity information is stolen". Wikipedia has a good article on identity theft that goes into great detail. Common use amongst those in the retailing and credit card industry is to use the term "credit card fraud" or something similar for when cards or financial accounts are used fraudulently ("Victim Established Accounts Accessed" in the wikipedia article) and to use "identity theft" for the other forms. That is because it is much easier to identify and rectify when existing accounts are accessed and abused versus when new accounts are created, or someone else is living a life under a stolen identity.

    My reading of the original article is that they probably used the term "identity fraud" to mean victim's accounts were accessed, since the methods referenced wouldn't give the type of information needed for other types of identity theft.

    It is important for the public to understand the differences, since the risk from having your accounts accessed is far less than the risks from other types of identity theft.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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