Identity theft statistics are collected from police reports, although a large percentage of cases are still not reported to law enforcement agencies, making exact numbers impossible to determine.

Up to 700,000 people in the United States may be victimized by identity thieves each year, according to the Justice Department *. Recent reports now talk about 10,000,000 victims.

The Secret Service estimates that in 1997 consumers lost more than $745 million due to identity theft. These days it is probably in the billions. A recent report on identity theft warned that there is likely to be “mass victimization” of consumers within the next two years. The report said consumers should be extra careful to monitor all their financial transactions for unexplained account activity, especially withdrawals or fund transfers.

Identity theft is the fastest growing crime in America. The average victim spends 175 hours and $1000.00 repairing the damage.

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) says that identity theft is its number one source of consumer complaints. 42 percent of all complaints received in 2001 dealt with identity theft.  “Every 79 seconds, a thief steals someone’s identity, opens accounts in the victim’s name and goes on a buying spree.” **

A study by the Gartner Group reveals that 1 in 50 consumers have suffered identity theft. The survey also indicates consumers are so concerned about the problem that they are calling for changes in the way electronic transactions are performed.

According to the FTC’s figures, identity theft is the most popular form of consumer fraud, in part because it is the most profitable. Identity thieves stole nearly $100 million from financial institutions last year, averaging $6,767 per victim.

* Press release – 2002 Federal Trade Commission Study
**, 1/25/2001

Regulations Regarding Electronic Recycling

According to a survey done by Hewlett-Packard Financial Services, very few corporate executives knew that they may receive severe fines or be jailed for improper disposal of computers.  More than 75% of those surveyed underestimated the cost of computer disposal.  More than 65% of executives with purchasing authority were unaware of the potential fines they can face for improper disposal of computers.

Recent legislation holds top executives and IT managers accountable for violating customer protection and privacy rules.  The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) allows fines up to $250,000 and 10 years in prison for each violation of patient health information privacy rules.  The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act imposes penalties of up to $100,000 per violation for financial institutions that fail to protect customer information.