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5/21/2010
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ID Theft Victims Spending Less In Cleanup Aftermath

New Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC) report shows victims spending less time, money to clear their names

Nearly one-third of all identity theft victims say they are unable to completely clear up damaged credit or criminal records in the aftermath of their identities being abused. But the good news is they're spending much less time and money cleaning up the fraud perpetrated against them in their names, according to a newly released report.

The Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC)'s "Identity Theft: The Aftermath 2009" report found that ID theft victims spent about $527 dollars out of pocket for an existing account compromised by an attacker, down from $741 in 2008. They also spent less time repairing the damage from a compromised account -- an average of 68 hours versus 76 hours in 2008.

It takes more time to clean up a newly opened financial account or a case involving criminal or governmental issues -- 141 hours last year, which was an improvement over '08, when it took an average of 265 hours.

The ITRC report (PDF) surveyed 183 victims nationwide. Nearly 24 percent say they believed they knew their identity thief, who was either a relative, friend, roommate, ex-spouse, or ex-significant other. And 10 percent say their cases were traced to an employee at a business who had their identity information.

Most ID thieves (55 percent) used the stolen identities to open new lines of credit, followed by making purchases on stolen credit and debit cards, 34 percent. Check fraud increased last year over 2008; 42 percent of the victims say their checks were stolen and their signatures forged, up from 35 percent the previous year. Additionally, 65 percent said thieves used the stolen account information to create fake checks for their use, up from 25 percent in '08.

The ITRC says the bottom line is you can't completely prevent ID theft. "Despite proactive measures victims may take, there is always the possibility that the creative and innovative identify thief can get around any security measures a victim may implement. This is why the ITRC strongly believes you cannot prevent identity theft," says Karen Barney, communications coordinator for the ITRC.

Have a comment on this story? Please click "Discuss" below. If you'd like to contact Dark Reading's editors directly, send us a message.

Kelly Jackson Higgins is the Executive Editor of Dark Reading. She is an award-winning veteran technology and business journalist with more than two decades of experience in reporting and editing for various publications, including Network Computing, Secure Enterprise ... View Full Bio

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