New Report Shows Identity Theft Rate Rising

A recently released survey from Gartner shows the rate of identity theft is rising -- more than 50 percent over previous years.

The survey results are compiled in the Gartner report, “The Truth Behind Identity Theft Numbers.”

What is interesting for financial institutions, they are not the first target. “As it showed in the report, the attacks are moving away from banks to fake lotteries and sweepstake contests, and other types of transactions including Internet auctions, nonregulated money transmittal systems, and other types of imaginative scams,” says Avivah Litan, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner.

“However, even though financial institutions can’t directly stop the identity theft, they can make the data stolen useless to the thieves,” Litan added. She suggested better fraud detection on ATMs, and better cross channel fraud detection mechanisms at institutions, as well as stronger card holder authentication methods, such as one-time passwords will help mitigate the threat to customers.

The report also showed electronic theft of sensitive information is a leading cause of certain types of fraud, including credit card, debit/ATM card and bank account transfer fraud. This is not the case with check forgery and new account fraud, where in-person data theft is the leading cause.

“All sensitive electronic data needs to be protected, but enterprises should be aware that the low hanging fruit for the criminals is electronic card and checking account numbers, as well as user IDs and passwords for online financial accounts,” Litan said.

About 15 million Americans fell victim to some type of identity-theft related fraud in the 12 months ending in mid-2006, according to the survey by Gartner. Compared to numbers from the Federal Trade Commission, the report stated that the statistics represent more than a 50 percent increase since 2003, when the FTC reported 9.9 million American adult identity theft victims.

About the Author

Linda McGlasson

Linda McGlasson

Managing Editor

Linda McGlasson is a seasoned writer and editor with 20 years of experience in writing for corporations, business publications and newspapers. She has worked in the Financial Services industry for more than 12 years. Most recently Linda headed information security awareness and training and the Computer Incident Response Team for Securities Industry Automation Corporation (SIAC), a subsidiary of the NYSE Group (NYX). As part of her role she developed infosec policy, developed new awareness testing and led the company's incident response team. In the last two years she's been involved with the Financial Services Information Sharing Analysis Center (FS-ISAC), editing its quarterly member newsletter and identifying speakers for member meetings.

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