An estimated 3.6 million U.S. households – about three out of every 100 – reported being victims of identity theft, says a Justice Department study that counted misuse of someone else’s cell phone, credit card, or personal information, the Associated Press reports. The figures differ from a previous Federal Trade Commission study that estimated 9.3 million victims of the crime for the same period. The Justice Department said the most frequent victims of identity theft were households headed by people age 18 to 24, and those with incomes of at least $75,000. The study was based on interviews with members of 42,000 randomly selected households over the last half of 2004.
An estimated 1.7 million discovered unauthorized use of credit cards during a six-month period. That is about 48 percent of households reporting identity theft crimes and 1.5 percent of all U.S. households. About 900,000 households experienced theft from other types of existing accounts, such as a cell phone account, bank account or debit-checking account. About 540,000 households said someone had misused personal information of someone in the home to open new accounts, get loans or commit other crimes.