The Paradox of Declining Property Crime Despite Increasing Identity Theft Crime:
Identity Theft Resource Center Offers Additional Insight on
Recently Released Bureau of Justice Statistics Report on Identity Theft
Today, in light of the vast media attention being given to a large retail breach, identity theft is on the mind of many Americans. Following the recent release of a Bureau of Justice’s report Victims of Identity Theft, 2012, the Identity Theft Resource Center today released a white paper on The Paradox of Declining Property Crime Despite Increasing Identity Theft Crime. This paper, which seeks to further examine the identity theft statistics reflected in the report, was sponsored by Lifelock, Inc.
According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics’ Victims of Identity Theft, 2012, 7% of all Americans 16 or older have experienced one or more incidents of identity theft with total direct and indirect losses totaling $24.7 billion. Other highlights noted in the BJS study include:
• Only 9.3% of the identity theft victims reported the incident to the police. There were a wide variety of reasons why victims did not report the crime to the police. Of the remaining 90%, nearly 60% of the victims indicated they handled it a different way, while 35.4% failed to report the crime because they either did not think the police could help, did not know they could report the incident, or did not know what agency was responsible for identity theft crimes.
• Overall, age and gender did not seem to have a significant impact on your chances of becoming a victim. However, households with incomes over $75,000 (highest bracket) had a higher prevalence of identity theft than other income brackets. This should not be taken as a reason for those in the lower income brackets to ignore the dangers of identity theft. There were still nearly 1.9 million victims with confirmed household incomes of less than $24,999 annually. This statistic alone should debunk the myth that identity thieves will not steal your identity if you don’t have good credit or a high income.
• Approximately 45% of victims discovered their identity theft after being alerted by a financial institution of suspicious activity on their account. Financial institutions are continuing to collaborate and create new innovative technologies to help detect and prevent identity theft. This is very encouraging because financial institutions and consumers are on the same side in this war and both the institutions and consumers must work together to cut down on the rate of identity theft. Consumers are doing their part as well, with the second most common way victims discovered their identity theft issue was by noticing fraudulent charges on their own accounts. Nearly 65% of all incidents of identity theft were discovered as a direct result of consumers and financial institutions remaining vigilant in monitoring for any sign of the crime.
• 16.6 million victims of identity theft compared to 8.9 million victims of property crime.
“The statistics in the BJS report are in direct contrast to other crime rate data. Reports from the FBI , which exclude identity theft rates, make the argument that property crime in the U.S. has been decreasing precipitously across the board, all while identity theft rates soar,” said Eva Velasquez, ITRC President/CEO. “The BJS statistics truly demonstrate that we do not have less crime in the United States, rather there has been a shift in the types of crime that are being committed.”
LifeLock, CEO Todd Davis said, "Today’s breach news reminds us that there is a lot of work needed to help educate consumers about the risks of identity theft. As the Bureau of Justice Statistics data reflects, identity theft incidents continue to increase and severely impact the lives of individuals." Davis continued, “LifeLock commends the Identity Theft Resource Center for its strong focus on helping consumers understand how to protect their personal information so that they can take action to help protect against identity theft."
This white paper reviews the recently released BJS statics as well as sheds light on the reasons why these statistics do not correlate with the FBI crime rate statistics in the Crime in the United States report. The paper raises questions about the effectiveness of existing nationwide education campaigns developed to heighten awareness on identifying types of identity theft, detecting, reporting, and measuring the crime, as well as mitigating a case. In addition, the paper concludes that more needs to be done to look at what is and isn’t working in the area of education surrounding identity theft and related issues, andconsumers need more tools to detect and mitigate an identity theft case.
“The ITRC is pleased to be working with LifeLock on this important educational project which seeks to greater inform all stakeholders involved in addressing identity theft and related issues,” said Velasquez. “Only by working together with other stakeholders in this space can we hope to achieve some measurable degree of success dealing with the growth of identity theft.”
About the ITRC
The Identity Theft Resource Center® (ITRC) is a nationally recognized non-profit organization established to support victims of identity theft in resolving their cases, and to broaden public education and awareness in the understanding of identity theft. Visit www.idtheftcenter.org. Victims may contact the ITRC at 888-400-5530.
LifeLock, Inc. (NYSE: LOCK) is a leading provider of proactive identity theft protection services for consumers and identity risk and credit worthiness assessment services for enterprises. Leveraging unique data, science and patented technology from ID Analytics, Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary, LifeLock gains a comprehensive perspective into identity risk to best protect consumers. As part of its commitment to fighting identity theft, LifeLock regularly works with law enforcement officials to better understand identity theft threats and trends.