According to the Federal Trade Commission, 8.3 million Americans were victims of identity theft in 2005. Every year, victims of identity theft struggle to recoup financial losses and repair damages to their credit standing. To alleviate the burdens -- which include out-of-pocket costs, lost wages and other expenses associated with reestablishing lost credit and/or identity -- several companies offer identity theft insurance. There are also simple precautions everyone should take to avoid becoming a victim.
"Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in the United States, affecting consumers of all ages," said NAIC President and Kansas Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger. "Its critical for consumers to know how to protect themselves and reduce the risk of becoming a victim."
The NAICs national survey, which polled a nationally representative sample of 500 adults, age 18 and older, from Nov. 16-22, 2007, also shows:
-- If seeking insurance coverage for identity theft, 38 percent of
respondents said they would look to insurance companies, 34 percent
said they would look to credit card companies and 27 percent said they
would look to banks.
-- 32 percent said they were victims or knew someone who had been a victim
of identity theft in the past five years. Of those consumers:
-- 46 percent said their identity theft exceeded $1,000.
-- 42 percent said it took three months or longer to resolve the
"Repairing the damages caused by identity theft can be a lengthy, financially straining process," said NAIC Executive Vice President and CEO Catherine J. Weatherford. "Taking precautions can save time, money and stress during the busy holiday shopping season and year-round."
Understanding the Basics of Identity Theft
Identity theft, sometimes referred to as identity fraud, is a crime that involves someone using your personal information -- such as your name, Social Security number, credit card number or other financial account information -- without your permission to commit fraud and/or other crimes.
Identity theft occurs in many forms, such as someone using your stolen personal information to apply for loans or purchase items using your credit card number, along with many other fraudulent activities.
The NAIC offers the following tips to help consumers protect their identity.
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