US - Identity fraud fell in the US during 2006 despite widely publicised claims to the contrary, according to data from a leading fraud research firm.Although identity theft and fraud was the fastest growing crime in the US in 2003, the last 12 months have seen a dramatic decrease, with 500,000 fewer victims reported in 2006 and amounts stolen falling by $6.46 billion, data from Javelin Strategy and Research revealed. Nonetheless, ID fraud remains an industry worth $486 billion a year, with 8.4 million victims in the US alone in 2006 – approximately 3.7% of the US population.“While you might think it is the elderly that are most likely to be targeted by ID thieves, it is actually young people who are most at risk,” said James Van Dyke, president of Javelin, speaking at the American Bankers’ Association’s Information Security Conference. “The over 65s have just a 2% chance of being a victim of ID fraud, as opposed to a 3.74% chance of being hit if you’re between the ages of 25 and 64. Young people [between] the ages of 18 and 24 however are the most at risk, with an 8% chance of becoming a victim,” Van Dyke added. Research also revealed that while 30% of US consumers suffered a security breach in 2006, just 0.8% of those whose details were stolen went on to suffer fraud.The number of bank accounts opened for fraudulent purposes using other people’s identities also fell by a third in the last year. Intriguingly however, a survey of 33 American and international financial institutions revealed surprising objectives in their bids to tackle fraud.“Our research found just 37% of anti-fraud work is done with the primary purpose of recovering fraud losses and mitigating operational risk. 63% of banks actually said their main objective in tackling fraud is to protect their reputations,” revealed Van Dyke. He went on to illustrate the continuing fight against ID fraudsters by citing the current security breach at retailing giant TJ Maxx, in which hackers were able to make off with the credit and debit card details of as many as 47 million customers. “The cost of that breach has been put at around $500 million, but I’ve heard estimates as high as [a billion],” said Van Dyke.
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