STAMFORD, Conn. -- Approximately 15 million Americans were victimized by some sort of identity-theft related fraud in the twelve months ending in mid-2006, according to a survey by Gartner, Inc. These statistics represent more than a 50 percent increase since 2003 when the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reported 9.9 million American adult identity theft victims.
According to the Gartner survey of 5,000 online U.S. adults in August 2006, the average loss was $3,257 in 2006, up from $1,408 in 2005. At the same time, the percentage of funds consumers managed to recover dropped from 87 percent in 2005 to 61 percent in 2006.
Hackers are exploiting Internet auctions, non-regulated money transmittal systems, the ability to impersonate lottery and sweepstake contests, and other types of imaginative scams, said Avivah Litan, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner. The thieves have also discovered the weakest links in the U.S. payments systems. Typically the weak links are found among the five or more million businesses that accept electronic payments from consumers, and the consumers themselves.