The good news is that the number of identity theft and fraud incidents was down in 2010. The bad news is that the average loss to consumers was up, from $387 in 2009 to $631 in 2010, according to Javelin Strategy and Research.
The reason for the increased loss per incident? Javelin researchers say there was more incidents of fraud involving new accounts – the type of fraud that's least likely to be detected quickly and therefore most likely to result in relatively large losses.
Out-of-pocket losses for consumers on new-account fraud averaged $1,267 in 2010, up from $787 in 2009.
Debit vs. credit
Also accounting for higher losses per incident was an increase in the use of debit cards, which typically don't have the same protection against losses as credit cards.
Javelin found that debit-card fraud was up from 26 percent of all existing-account cases in 2009 to 36 percent in 2010.
High-income households had the highest rate of fraud – 7.3 percent compared with an average of 3.5 percent for all income levels.
The Javelin 2011 Identity Fraud Survey Report provides a detailed, comprehensive analysis of identity fraud in the United States to help consumers and businesses better understand the effectiveness of methods used for its prevention, detection and resolution. A nationally representative sample of 5,004 U.S. adults, including 470 fraud victims, was surveyed via a 50-question phone interview, providing insight into this crime and the effects on its victims.