Complete Description:This survey shows that 8.3 million American adults, or 3.7 percent of all American adults, were victims of identity theft in 2005. Of the victims, 3.2 million, or 1.4 percent of all adults, experienced misuse of their existing credit card accounts; 3.3 million, or 1.5 percent, experienced misuse of non-credit card accounts; and 1.8 million victims, or 0.8 percent, found that new accounts were opened or other frauds were committed using their personal identifying information. The survey found that the costs associated with identity theft varied widely. In at least half of all incidents, thieves obtained goods or services worth $500 or less. In 10 percent of cases, however, thieves got at least $6,000 worth of goods or services.Approximately 40 percent of victims whose identity theft was limited to the misuse of existing accounts discovered the misuse within one week of when it began. In contrast, nearly one-quarter of victims of new account and other frauds did not find out about the misuse of their information until at least six months after it started. In cases where they discovered the misuse more quickly, victims reported lower out-of-pocket losses and thieves obtained less.
Fifty-six percent of all victims were unable to provide any information on how their personal information was stolen. The 44 percent who did provide such information included 16 percent of all victims who said that their information was stolen by someone they knew personally. Because most victims do not know how their information was compromised, these numbers may under-represent the actual percentage of victims who had a personal relationship with the individual who stole their information. The study was conducted through interviews using a random-digit-dialing sampling methodology. A total of 4,917 telephone interviews were conducted between March 27 and June 11, 2006.