The number of Americans victimized by identity fraud has declined steadily since 2003, says a survey sponsored by credit-card and financial services companies and reported by the New York Times. Last year, 3.7 percent of people surveyed said someone had stolen their identity in the previous 12 months, down from 4.7 percent in 2003. The study found that total losses from the crime fell last year to $49 billion from the 2005 level of $56 billion. The thieves either use victims' existing bank or credit card accounts or open new ones.
The survey, based on telephone interviews with 5,000 adults, was conducted by Javelin Strategy & Research, a data research firm, and was sponsored by Visa, Wells Fargo and CheckFree. The findings contradict public perceptions that identity fraud is proliferating out of control, said James Van Dyke, president of Javelin. “For years identity fraud has been reported as the nation's fastest growing crime, with the assumption that the numbers would keep going up,” he said. “We find it's not the case. The trend is going down.”