Sunday, December 18, 2011

Occupy Genealogy and Identity Theft Statistics

Most genealogists are aware of the slippery slope the SSDI is on and I have joined the Occupy Genealogy movement started by Thomas MacEntree and Skip Murray this past week to aid in any way I can. I debated in high school and a bit in college, so this brings back a lot of warm memories.

In 2008, the Association of Professional Genealogists published a position paper regarding open records. The paper cited statistics from Javelin Strategy & Research, a research group that works for financial industry. Some of the statistics in the report, originally published in Javelin's 2006 Identity Fraud Survey Report, are quite dated.

The 2008 APG paper, citing the 2006 Javelin report, indicated that identity theft was the result of:
  • 30% was the result of lost or stolen wallets, checkbooks or credit cards
  • 15% was the result of friends, acquaintances, relatives or in-home employees
  • 15% was the result of corrupt business employees
In 2009, Javelin report shows the following statistics with some changes:
  • 43% was the result of lost or stolen wallets, checkbooks or credit cards (up 13%)
  • 19% was the result of theft while conducting a transaction (n/a in 2006 report)
  • 13% was the result of theft of personal information by someone known to the victim, such as a relative, acquaintance or employee (-2%)
  • 11% data breaches (n/a in 2006 report)
  • 3% stolen paper mail (n/a in 2006 report)
  • 11% other data theft during online activities (n/a in 2006 report)
  • 1% other (n/a in 2006 report)
I'm unsure why this adds up to 101%; maybe it is the result of rounding up. Note that the numbers indicate that perpetrators of identity theft are using mostly conventional methods in committing fraud.

The 2009 report also states:

In 2008, online access, such as using virus-afflicted computers at home or at work, accounted for only 11 percent of the total fraud. Combined with the increased speed of misuse, this trend points to more attacks of opportunity, when a fraudster takes advantage of personal information to which they suddenly have access, such as a lost wallet or watching someone enter their ATM PIN.

Just a few of the numbers I have located so far. Stay tuned.

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