According to the 2011 Identity Fraud Survey Report released on February 8, 2011, by Javelin Strategy & Research, identity fraud dropped by 28% in 2010. In terms of the number of identity fraud incidents, that’s a drop of about three million victims in one year! While both the number of identity fraud incidents and the average dollar amount of the fraud per victim fell in 2010, the average out of pocket cost to the victim (paying fraudulent debts, paying legal fees, and other charges) increased by 63% in 2010.
The report provides six safety tips to protect against identity fraud:
- Keep personal data private;
- Don’t overshare on social networks;
- Use your debit card wisely;
- Be vigilant;
- Learn about identity protection services; and
- Report problems immediately.
For an incapacitated or deceased person, family members and fiduciaries should be alert for and protect against identity fraud. As Francis Bacon wrote, “Opportunity makes a thief.” In the 2011 Identity Fraud Survey Report mentioned above, they found that fraud committed by someone who knew the victim increased by 7% in 2010. To monitor for potential identity fraud, the appropriate fiduciary can request a credit report on the person from one or more of the three nationwide consumer credit reporting companies: Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. If the person is incapacitated, adding a Security Freeze at these three credit reporting companies prevents credit card companies, lenders, and others from accessing the person’s credit report without consent. If the person is deceased, send a copy of the person’s death certificate to each of these three credit reporting companies and request that the person’s account be listed as closed because the person is deceased.