The Public Eye

Reports from the Bee's investigative team

July 6, 2010
Characteristics of identity theft victims

The U.S. Justice Department last week published a statistical profile of identity theft as reported by households in 2007. Though the data is a bit old, we get a sense of the problem: the rate and types of theft as well as the demographics of the affected families. In 2007 about 7.9 million households (6.6 percent of all U.S. households) had at least one member who was a victim of identity theft. According to the DOJ, the number of victimized households increased 23% from 2005 to 2007. Also during that period the number of households which experienced credit card theft increased by 31%.

In general, households headed by individuals over 65 were less likely to be victims. Households earning $75k and above were more likely to be victimized. Hispanic households were less likely than non-Hispanic ones. One-person households were victimized less than ones with two or more people over 12. The average amount lost per household in 2007 was $1,830.

Identity theft can happen to any of us. For a good overview of the crime, how it works, how to prevent it and what to do if you fall victim, see the Federal Trade Commission's Identity Theft Site. The California Attorney General also has a helpful web site with tips and instructions for submitting information to the ID Theft Registry.

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About The Public Eye

Welcome to The Bee's newest blog: Public Eye. In the coming months, you will see us breaking news here as well as following up on investigations we have published with tidbits, news breaks and behind-the-scenes descriptions of our news-gathering process. Know of a wrong we could right? Send our fraud squad your tips at: fraudsquad@sacbee.com.

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