Identity Theft Reports Jump; Most Attributed to Family
According to a new ID theft report from the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, most cases of ID theft are linked to a victim's family members or coworkers.
John Summers, a project officer at FinCEN and a lead in FinCEN's report, "Identity Theft: Trends, Patterns and Typologies Reported in Suspicious Activity Reports", says ID theft perpetrated by family, friends and business partners ranked No.1 among SARs filed by U.S. depository institutions in 2009. "In 27.5 percent of the filings, this was the highest," he says. "It basically means someone close to them was getting access to their files and using their information."
In the FinCEN study, of the 372 depository institutions reviewed - a mix of banks and credit unions of varying assets sizes - the majority of ID theft incidents, not surprisingly, were reported by the largest financial institutions.
Identity theft was the sixth most frequently reported characterization of suspicious activity, trailing money laundering, check fraud, mortgage-loan fraud, credit-card fraud, and counterfeit-check fraud. In the study, FinCEN defines identity theft as involving the theft and misuse of unique identifying information, such as financial account numbers, depository accounts, investments, loans, credit cards, online payment accounts, officially issued federal or state identification documents, and biometric information.
Impersonation of an actual person without consent also fell into the ID theft definition, whether that impersonation occurred in-person or through an electronic form or other medium.
The most important takeaway from the study, Summers says: The narrative section on the SAR, which provides the most critical information. "It is very key to the analysis," he says. "Since we added the identity theft box in 2003, we've used the narrative to tell law enforcement what happened; and the more information the banks can provide in the narrative, the more the regulators and law enforcement can do."
Please refer here to download the report.