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ID Fraud Overblown, Says Online Banking Business

Of the 53% of identity fraud victims who could name the cause, only 9% identified the online world as the source, according to a banking industry-sponsored survey.
"Look at it like the difference between automobiles and airplanes. Everyone knows that airplanes are statistically safer, but you're not in control, so you feel more nervous flying than driving." Same with offline and online identity fraud. "The new threat online is the one that gets you nervous. It's less visible and you don't have control."

The BBB and Javelin argued that consumers, in fact, do have control over identity fraud.

"People are not helpless in protecting themselves," said Van Dyke. He suggested the usual -- don't give out personal information, for example -- but also advised consumers to use a personal firewall and keep anti-virus defenses up-to-date. Another helpful tool, he said, was to take advantage of the free credit report issued through the AnnualCreditReport.com site.

"We can stay on top of this," said Steven Cole, the chief executive of the Council of Better Business Bureaus.