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Numbers | The Best Way to Prevent Identity Theft? Hold on to Your Wallet

Feb 26, 20082 mins
CSO and CISOIdentity Management Solutions

Most identity frauds are traced back to low-tech methods, not the Internet, according to new research from Javelin

Most identity thieves still obtain the information they use to commit fraud through traditional, low-tech methods, not from the Internet, according to a new study from Javelin Strategy & Research.

The Javelin study–funded by CheckFree, a financial e-commerce service provider, now part of Fiserv, Visa and Wells Fargo–was done in October 2007 through telephone interviews with 5,000 consumers about their “day-to-day financial behaviors.” Of respondents who had been the victim of identity fraud, 35 percent said they knew how their data was taken.

Of those respondents, only 12 percent said online channels, including phishing, hacking and spyware, were used by the perpetrators, and 7 percent traced the fraud back to a data breach. The majority of known cases still occur through traditional methods. A theft method is considered “traditional” if the criminal makes direct contact with the consumer’s personal identification. This includes lost or stolen wallets, credit cards, checkbooks, and shoulder surfing (when a thief looks over the victim’s shoulder at an ATM machine, in order to obtain PIN information).

The breakdown:

Traditional methods (79 percent):

* Lost or stolen wallets: 33 percent

* While conducting a transaction: 23 percent

* “Friendly” theft (perpetrators are friends or family members): 17 percent

* Stolen paper mail: 6 percent

Other methods (21 percent):

* Online (including phishing, hacking and spyware): 12 percent

* Data breach: 7 percent

* Other: 2 percent

Staff Writer Katherine Walsh can be reached at