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One Step Ahead
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April 27, 2010, Volume 56, No. 31

One Step Ahead

Another tip in a series provided by the Offices of Information Systems & Computing and Audit, Compliance & Privacy.

ID Theft: A Growth Industry

According to a recently-released survey report, 11.1 million Americans were victims of identity theft in 2009—a 12 percent increase from 2008. Over the same period, dollars lost to identity theft fraud grew 12.5 percent, to $54 billion. Thirty-nine percent of identity theft victims reported that stolen information was used to open new credit card accounts, compared to 33 percent in 2008. 

Interestingly, the report finds that “millennials” (consumers aged 18-24) take nearly twice as long as other age groups to detect fraud. They are less likely to monitor accounts—but more likely to respond to fraud, once detected, by switching banks or forms of payment.

The report concludes that increasing identity theft fraud is driven by the current economy and a global, sophisticated criminal enterprise that focuses on this area.  It advises consumers to be vigilant about safeguarding their personal information online and offline.  Recommendations include the following:

• Change passwords regularly

• Do not share passwords or account information

• Monitor account statements and credit reports

• Use a shredder to dispose of account documents

• Keep anti-virus software up to date

• Use discretion when sharing information online, including use of mobile devices.

A brief overview of the survey, including key findings and safety tips, can be viewed at www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/javelin-study-finds-identity-fraud-reached-new-high-in-2009-but-consumers-are-fighting-back-83987287.html.

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For additional tips, see the One Step Ahead link on the Information Security website: www.upenn.edu/computing/security/

Almanac - April 27, 2010, Volume 56, No. 31