When you are con­sid­er­ing whether or not to pur­chase an iden­tity theft pro­tec­tion plan, prob­a­bly the first bit of research you will do is check iden­tity theft sta­tis­tics. They give you an idea of just how vul­ner­a­ble you really are before you choose your cov­er­age. Some will tell you that you don’t need iden­tity theft pro­tec­tion but when you look at the sta­tis­tics, the facts tell you oth­er­wise. Agen­cies such as the Iden­tity Theft Resource Cen­ter (ITRC) based in San Diego, Cal­i­for­nia and Javelin Strat­egy & Research based in Pleasan­ton, Cal­i­for­nia con­duct stud­ies to col­lect these statistics.

Do the Sta­tis­tics Cre­ate the Need?

After exam­in­ing all of these alarm­ing sta­tis­tics, the ques­tion remains: Do you need iden­tity theft pro­tec­tion? You will have to admit that the num­bers are not small. Con­sider also that these days we con­duct a large por­tion of our finan­cial trans­ac­tions on the inter­net and most all of use ATMs. Can you really afford to be exploited by an iden­tity theft? How much expense are you will­ing to go through to fix the dam­age done? And, after it’s all fixed, what if it hap­pens again? Unless you’re an expert in iden­tity theft and fraud detec­tion, do you really know what to look for? As you exam­ine the sta­tis­tics that fol­low, keep these ques­tions at the fore­front of your mind.

Sta­tis­tics Related to Incidence

Accord­ing to a study done by Javelin in 2010, the instances of iden­tity theft were sum­ma­rized into a chart. It is no sur­prise that the high­est occur­rence of these crime inci­dents were related to mak­ing pur­chases either online or in per­son. Here is what they found.

In-person pur­chases – 42%

Online pur­chases – 42%

Mail/phone pur­chases – 21%ATM with­drawals – 10%

Writ­ing checks – 10%

Gift cards, pur­chase attempts, bill pay, obtain­ing a new credit card, obtain­ing health care, in-person cash with­drawal – less than 7%
As you can see, if you use a credit card either online or in-person, you are at more than a 4 in 10 chance of becom­ing an iden­tity theft vic­tim. Those odds are rather high. In 2007, the U.S. Depart­ment of Jus­tice esti­mated that 6.6% or 7.9 mil­lion house­holds had at least one mem­ber who was a vic­tim of this crime. While this sta­tis­tic makes the odds a lit­tle bet­ter, con­sider that com­pared to 2005, it was a 23% increase. The Depart­ment of Jus­tice also reported in 2007 that 30% of house­holds had at least $500 stolen from them due to an iden­tity theft inci­dent. Can you really afford to lose $500 or more?

Sta­tis­tics after the Crime

Just using your credit card online puts you at a 40% greater risk of being a vic­tim of iden­tity theft.

Sta­tis­tics after the crime are related to how long it takes for a per­son to real­ize he or she is a vic­tim. Credit mon­i­tor­ing ser­vices reduce the lull time between the crime and dis­cov­ery of it. Accord­ing to Javelin, a lit­tle under half (48%) of the total reported iden­tity theft inci­dents were dis­cov­ered by the vic­tims. This indi­cates that 4-5 out of 10 peo­ple are mon­i­tor­ing there credit files or state­ments and report­ing when some­thing looks out of place. Yet this fig­ure still indi­cates that the other half of the pop­u­la­tion is not mon­i­tor­ing their infor­ma­tion at all. Not mon­i­tor­ing could mean that it could take months to years to detect after sig­nif­i­cant dam­age has taken place.

The impor­tance of reg­u­lar mon­i­tor­ing of your credit file is crit­i­cal for timely action when the crime occurs.

What it all Costs

What is really dis­turb­ing as shown by iden­tity theft sta­tis­tics is the ris­ing costs to con­sumers for this type of crime. Javelin pub­lished a chart com­par­ing 2006 con­sumer mis­ap­pro­pri­ated funds to the same cat­e­gory for 2010. It is alarm­ing to find a total of $176,397 mis­ap­pro­pri­ated funds com­pared to the 2006 total of $75,000. It shows a 234% increase in what this crime costs to consumers.

Now that you know some of the stats, isn’t it time you got some pro­tec­tion?  To select a credit monitoring plan, read our review of the top 10 monitoring companies.