Losses to identity fraud in the United States dropped by about 12% last year, a research group study claimed this week.
A telephone poll of 5,000 American consumers, the third such survey by Javelin Strategy & Research, reported an 11.5% decrease in fraud losses, a slide that translated into a total dollar reduction of $6.4 billion.
About half a million fewer Americans fell victim to identity theft in 2006 than the year before, Javelin's survey said, to bring the overall rate of fraud to 3.7% of the country's adult population. Estimated losses fell from $55.7 billion in 2005 to $49.3 billion in 2006.
"While identity fraud is still a serious issue in the U.S., [this] points to significant identity theft reduction as a direct result of changes in industry and consumer behaviors," said James Van Dyke, Javelin's president, in a statement. "We now have more effective methods to quickly catch or even prevent fraud before it occurs."
In other results, the survey noted that Americans in the 18-to-24 age range are most likely to fall for fraudsters' pitches, with 5.3% of that group reporting identity theft as opposed to 3.7% of the population as a whole.
Javelin's research was sponsored by a troika of CheckFree, Visa, and Wells Fargo, all of which have substantial interests in combating identity theft.