FTC: 10M Americans Victims Of ID Theft

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Identity theft victimized nearly 10 million Americans last year, and cost businesses and financial institutions almost $48 billion in losses and expenses, according to a survey released by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) last week.

In addition, another $5 billion was spent by those individuals as they sought to rectify the problem, according to the FTC, which said approximately 27-million Americans have been hit by ID theft over the past five years. The FTC data was based on a new survey of some 4,100 adults conducted by Synovate.

Over the past year, the FTC said, approximately 3.23-million consumers were surprised to find out accounts were being opened in their names, or that someone had obtained medical care, apartments and homes, and even jobs while assuming their identity. In such cases, the average cost to businesses and financial institutions was $10,200 per victim, the FTC said. The cost to individuals was approximately $1,180.

How did ID theft victims discover the crimes:

* 52% (about five-million people) did so by monitoring their accounts.

* 26% (about 2.5 million people) said they had been made aware of suspicious account activity by credit card issuers, banks and other providers.

* 8% found out about it after being turned down for credit.

Almost one-quarter of victims said they had their identity stolen as the result of losing or having had solen their credit cards, Social Security cards, checkbooks, etc.

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