FTC enters ID theft data dispute

US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) will wade into an emerging debate on the nature of identity crime when it releases its latest ID theft statistics at the RSA Conference in San Francisco next week.

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US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) will wade into an emerging debate on the nature of identity crime when it releases its latest ID theft statistics at the RSA Conference in San Francisco next week.

The data, set to be released on 7 February 2007, will be based on information compiled by the FTC’s consumer sentinel complaint database, said Claudia Bourne Farrell, an FTC spokeswoman.

The Consumer Sentinel data is based on “anecdotal ... data that has been self-reported to the FTC by consumers”, she said via email.

The FTC is preparing a more comprehensive ID fraud survey, similar to one it published in 2003, which is expected to be released in the coming months.

Still, the FTC’s consumer sentinel report is based on a large amount of data. In 2005, for example, consumers logged more than 650,000 complaints, accounting for about $680 million (£345m) in losses.

The FTC’s numbers will come at a time when there is some debate about whether ID theft is actually on the rise. Using a methodology developed for the 2003 FTC survey, Javelin Strategy & Research reported 1 February 2007 that this type of fraud actually dropped in 2006.

The total cost of identity fraud was down 12 per cent last year, totalling $49.3 billion (£25bn) in losses, according to Javelin. Nationwide, there were about 500,000 fewer victims, year-over-year, the research company said.

Javelin’s results run “contrary to all the trends we are seeing in the market”, said Gartner analyst Avivah Litan.

“In fact, the UK banks just released a study showing their identity theft-related fraud is up nearly 20 per cent,” she said.

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