No One Is Immune From Identity Theft


We support reforms to the financial marketplace that protect consumers from unscrupulous banks and lenders.

By Consumers Union on Friday, December 7th, 2007

No One Is Immune From Identity Theft
“Whether you’re from Malibu or Manhattan, Tacoma or Tallahassee, no one is immune to identity theft,” said Lydia B. Parnes, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. Source:

8.3 Million Fall Victim to Identity Theft
A new Federal Trade Commission (FTC) study puts the number of US adults who become victims of Identity Theft (ID) at 8.3 million a year. Link to FTC study
Consumers Union estimates that’s over 22.000 victims per day and 15 victims for every minute of every day.

The Numbers
According to the FTC, 3.3 million consumers were victims of existing non-credit card fraud, such as checking, savings and telephone accounts, 3.2 million were victims of existing credit card fraud and 1.8 million were victims of new account and other fraud, when a thief opens all manner of new accounts using the victim’s personal information.

Time and Money
New account ID theft continues as the most troublesome for consumers. Consumers whose personal information was used in the creation of new accounts and other fraud spent the most amount of time and money disentangling themselves from the problems created by ID theft. Nearly one third (31%) spent 40 hours or more resolving problems caused by ID theft, another 10% spent 100 hours or more and 5% of victims reported that they spent 1,200 hours clearing their name of fraudulent activity. One quarter (25%) of all new account victims reported expenses of at least $1,000. Ten percent of new account victims experienced out of pocket expense of $3,000.

Double Trouble
The non-monetary consequences of ID theft were very serious for many consumers. More than two-thirds (68%) of new account victims experienced at least one of the following problems as a result of fraud being perpetrated in their name; collection agency harassment, denial of new credit, unable to use existing credit cards, unable to obtain loans, difficulties opening or accessing bank accounts, having their utilities shut off, criminal investigation, arrest and being sued.

Other Findings
Notice of Security Breach helps. The FTC study showed that a majority of people who received a notice of a security breach (55%) took some action in response to that notice.
Only 16% of all victims were personally acquainted with the identity thief.
In addition to the time and money spent unraveling the fraud committed in their name, many consumers reported that the dispute resolution process was the most difficult part of the experience.
More than half (56%) of new account victims did not discover the fraud until after the first month, for another 24% it took more than six months to discover new account fraud.

Protect Yourself
A security freeze is the most effective tool against “new account” ID theft. Click on the link below to learn how to place a security freeze in your state. You can place a security freeze even you don’t live in a state with a freeze law by contacting the credit bureaus, TransUnion, Equifax and Experian.

Source: Federal Trade Commission – 2006 Identity Theft Survey Report, November 2007.

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