ID theft still on the rise, but victims respond faster

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Incidents of identity fraud and the total cost of fraud once again climbed last year, but consumers are becoming better equipped to respond to the occurrences of theft, according to a report released Wednesday by Javelin Strategy & Research.

The seventh annual "2010 Identity Fraud Survey Report," which polled more than 5,000 U.S. consumers, concluded that the number of victims rose to 11.1 million adults in 2009, an increase of 12 percent. Meanwhile, the total annual fraud amount experienced by these victims jumped 12.5 percent to $54 billion.

This is the second straight year that both of those statistics have risen.

But there were some silver linings to be found. The study showed that the average fraud resolution time fell 30 percent to 21 hours, thanks to increased consumer awareness, as well as banks helping victims better respond to incidents through fraud detection and real-time alerts. And victims are more commonly filing police reports, which allowed the number of arrests and convictions of the culprits to double.

"The good news is consumers are getting more aggressive in monitoring, detecting and preventing fraud with the help of technology and partnerships with financial institutions, government agencies and resolution services," James Van Dyke, president and founder of Javelin, said in a statement.

The report also focused on areas that need improvement.

Victims ages 18 to 24 were the slowest to detect fraud, taking twice as long as other age groups, the report said. Meanwhile, small- and mid-size (SMB) business owners suffered fraud at a rate 1 1/2 times more than other adults. The report attributed this to SMB owners using personal accounts to make business transactions.

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