For several consecutive years following the FTC’s original finding on “America’s fastest growing white collar crime” Javelin Strategy & Research reported that unauthorized transactions committed in another person’s name were on the wane. Then for the last two years they found it’s up sharply again–so what’s up? Unemployment and other indicators of a tough economic environment are what’s up, and fraud seems to be correlated. No one can prove such connections, but Javelin charted GNP growth against the rise and fall of ID fraud, and the two opposite curves look like these two symbols, except turned sideways: )(

Identity fraud is a combination of two crimes: theft, followed by transactional misuse of the data. Unquestionably, there are highly-sophisticated “professionals” operating from sometimes half a world away using the latest advanced technology, and there are also desperate perpetrators using whatever information they stumble across. Javelin’s separate studies (such as the Safety Scorecards) show that industry systems are actually improving a great deal (case: large FIs’ Prevention scores jumped from 51% to 79% last year, a record increase), but in these tough times it seems criminals are evolving fast too.

Desperate times make for desperate measures, and in 2009 a record 11.1million adults were victimized by ID Fraud in the US.

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