Identity theft is a crime in which an impostor obtains key pieces of personal identifying information (PII) such as Social Security Numbers and driver’s license numbers for their own personal gain. It can start with lost or stolen wallets, pilfered mail, a data breach, computer virus, or phishing. Phishing is the criminally fraudulent process of attempting to acquire sensitive information such as usernames, passwords and credit card details by masquerading as a trustworthy entity in an electronic communication, a scam, or paper documents thrown out by you or a business (dumpster diving). This crime varies widely, and can include check fraud, credit card fraud, financial identity theft, criminal identity theft, governmental identity theft, and identity fraud.
A Few Facts About Identity Theft
1. The average fraud amount per case has increased from $5,249 to $6,383, over 2 years. As a result, the total one-year cost of identity fraud in the United States has remained relatively flat between 2003 and 2006, increasing from $53.2 billion to $56.6 billion.
2. The vast majority of identity fraud victims (68%) incur no out-of-pocket expenses. This points out that businesses are victims of fraud as well.
3. Victims are spending more time to resolve identity fraud cases, which has increased from 33 hours in 2003 to 40 hours in 2006.
Means of Access
1. How most data is compromised (90%) takes place through traditional offline channels and not via the Internet, when the victim can identify the source of data compromise.
2. Lost or stolen wallets, checkbooks or credit cards continue to be the primary source of personal information theft when the victim can identify the source of data compromise (30%).
3. Almost half (47%) of all identity theft is perpetrated by friends, neighbors, in-home employees, family members or relatives - someone known - when the victim can identify the perpetrator of data compromise.
4. Nearly 70% of consumers are shredding documents, so that trash as a source of data compromise is now less than 1%.
1. The 65+ demographic age group has the smallest rate of identity fraud victims (2.3%).
2. The 35-44 demographic age group has the highest average fraud amount ($9,435). (Note: victims’ age was not found to be statistically related to Internet usage as compared to traditional types of fraud.)
Some Ways a Suspect Will Obtain Your Information
1. Steal your mail from an unsecured mailbox.
2. Information still on a hard drive of a computer that has been disposed of. Destroy a hard drive on an old computer before disposing of it to insure any data cannot be removed from the drive.
3. Call you saying they are with a banking institution and ask you to confirm your information.
4. Collect the information from the trash.
A Partial List of Resources if You are a Victim of Identity Theft
Attorney General: Edmund G. “Jerry” Brown Jr. (D) 1300 I St., Ste. 1740, Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: (916) 445-9555
California Attorney General Website
California Office of Privacy Protection, (Dept. of Consumer Affairs)
Phone: (866) 785-9663
California Office of Privacy Protection Website
CA Secretary of State Phone: (916) 653-6814
California Attorney General Website
CA DMV Fraud Department Phone / Local: (866) 658-5758
Phone / Out of State: (916) 657-2274
California Department of Motor Vehicles Website
Email the California Department of Motor Vehicles Fraud Department
CA Identity Theft Registry
(for victims of Criminal Identity Theft)
California Identity Theft Registry Website
CRAs and FTC
PO Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374-0241
Phone: (800) 525-6285
PO Box 9701, Allen, TX 75013-0949
Phone: (888) 397-3742
PO Box 6790, Fullerton, CA 92834
Phone: (800) 680-7289
Identity Theft Complaint Input Form