Identity Theft Special Report

How bad is the problem of identity theft?

At Lange Financial Group, LLC we focus on helping our clients make and save money with Roth IRA conversions, Asset management services, and Tax planning here in Pittsburgh and across the country.  But we are also concerned with helping our clients and friends protect and keep what they’ve worked so hard to save.  Part of that is being aware of identity theft and giving them advice on how to protect themselves from it.

Identity theft remains the top category of fraud affecting consumers. In the Federal Trade Commission’s “Consumer Sentinel Network Complaint Data Book” report for 2009, it shows the number of identity theft remained high this year from 314,484 in 2008 to 278,078 in 2009.  Identity theft represents 21% of all consumer fraud complaints, followed by third-party and creditor debt collection (9%), internet services and other forms of fraud (6%), and shop-at-home and catalog sales (6%). And while contemplating this enormous number, keep in mind that it doesn’t include those victims who chose not to file a claim, or filed under other categories, such as theft or mail or internet fraud.

With numbers on the rise again, it is even more important that you refresh your memory on the signs of identity theft and the simple precautions you can take to lessen your chance of becoming one of the statistics! Still don’t think it’s all that important? Read on.

The average cost to the consumer stayed in the thousands from $2,961 in 2009 to $2,267 in 2011. Luckily, a full 51% paid nothing at all, because in most cases, victims are not legally responsible for unauthorized charges or accounts. Looking only at victims who did have to pay out-of-pocket expenses, the median amount paid was $537

Age-wise, people under 40 bear the brunt of identity theft fraud. The graph below shows that nationwide, people are less likely to be victimized the older they get. Of all 2011 victims, 52% of victims were under 40, 18% were in their 40s, 15% were in their 50s and 15% were over 60.

Government documents or benefits fraud was the most common form of reported identity theft (24.1%). Credit card fraud was second (14%) followed by phone or utilities (13%) and bank fraud (9%). Other significant types of identity theft reported by victims were employment related (8%) and loan fraud (3%).

It’s no wonder so many people across the nation are becoming slightly paranoid about their personal information and who has access to it. Almost everyone has heard at least one person’s horror story of the long and difficult path to clearing their name (and credit rating!) after identity theft has occurred, and after hearing it, my guess is that everyone shared the same thought—“I hope that never happens to me!”

Modified from MD Producer