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New Identity Theft Survey Reveals Latest Count of Victims

Thursday 19 May 2005 16:16 CET | News

Incidents of phishing and identify theft continue to increase dramatically, according to an independent nationwide survey of consumers released by electronic commerce and payments leader First Data Corp.

The survey found that 6.8 percent of adults have been victimized by identity theft and a striking 43.4 percent of adults have received a phishing contact. Further, the study indicates that as many as 54 million Americans have been the victims of ID-related fraud. Phishing is a growing form of attempted identity theft in which consumers are contacted via bogus e-mail messages that try to lure them into providing personal information such as their Social Security number and/or financial account information. Phishers, or fraudsters, may pose as financial institutions, credit card companies, retailers, government agencies or other entities with which consumers have a relationship. Answering the call to action throughout its 15-state footprint in the South, Midwest and Texas is Regions Financial Corporation, which is teaming with First Datas STAR Network to distribute a series of radio and television public service announcements to help consumers recognize phishing schemes before they become victims. Regions, a STAR member, is one of the nations Top 15 financial services providers and the parent company of Regions Bank and Union Planters Bank. The announcements, originally developed by STAR and the National Consumers League, can be viewed at www.STAR.com and www.phishinginfo.org. William E. Askew, Regions executive vice president of consumer and business banking, said teaming with First Datas STAR Network was a next natural step for Regions, which was a founding member of the Identity Theft Assistance Center (ITAC), a non-profit cooperative industry initiative to help victims of identity theft by streamlining the recovery process. ITAC is sponsored by The Financial Services Roundtable and BITS, which represent 100 of the largest integrated financial services companies. Regions also works with the American Bankers Association on other efforts to combat identity theft. The research, conducted in late 2004 by Synovate on behalf of First Datas STAR Network, also measured Americans level of concern about identity theft as compared with a range of other national issues. (Margin of error for 2,000 respondents is +/- 2.2 percent). The 2004 results revealed that 50 percent of consumers surveyed continue to be very/extremely concerned about identity theft, which is consistent with an earlier study that found that 51 percent of consumers were very/extremely concerned about identity theft (April 2003 STAR/Synovate survey). The 2004 survey results revealed that Americans concern about identity theft ranks close in importance to terrorism within U.S. borders (53 percent), state of the economy (52 percent), and concern about unemployment (41 percent). More than one-third of consumers surveyed (36.6 percent) reported that they have received a phishing e-mail, while 19 percent said they have received a phishing phone call. Of those consumers who said they were contacted by phishers, 5 percent trusted the phishers enough to provide the requested personal information. Of those who said they provided information, nearly half (45 percent) reported that the information was used to make an unauthorized transaction, open an account, or commit another type of identity theft. In the past year, this contributed to the approximately 2 million new identity theft victims from phishing alone. The survey validates earlier studies by reporting nearly one-third (31 percent) of consumers contacted said that the phisher had posed as a financial institution, while one in 10 (9.6 percent) reported that the phisher had impersonated a credit card company. Other entities, such as retailers, mortgage or financial services companies, government agencies, Internet service providers, or payments service companies, were represented to a lesser degree.


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Categories: Payments & Commerce | Payments General
Countries: World
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Payments & Commerce