New study shows ID theft exaggerated
Jeff Blyskal writes:
If you worry that your identity is at risk of being stolen, a new study by the U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics should set your mind at ease. It confirms that the identity-theft “crisis” has been wildly overblown, as we’ve previously reported. For example, credit- and debit-card fraud accounts for the majority of what is now labeled as ID theft.
More than 86 percent of the ID theft picked up by the BJS survey involved existing credit card, bank, or other accounts. So if a pickpocket steals your wallet and goes on a spending spree with your Visa card, that counts as identity theft, even though your credit card is the thing that was stolen and your identity was only tangentially involved. About 10.1 million of the 11.7 million victims of ID theft involved existing accounts.
“Is that really identity theft? That is certainly a criticism raised about this data,” Katrina Baum, senior statistician at the Bureau, told us last April regarding an earlier BJS study. The Bureau’s studies employ the broader overarching definition of identity theft used in the Fair Credit Reporting Act: “A fraud committed using the identifying information of another person.”
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