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(Investor's Business Daily, 20 October 2000) - Copyright © Investor's Business Daily

The FTC warns that identity theft is on the increase nationwide, affecting roughly 750,000 people every year. The Internet is largely responsible for the increase, because it makes it simpler for identity thieves to obtain information about people and open bogus accounts, as more public records move online, and personal data can also be purchased from various Internet public-records firms. The FTC, which is currently trying to find ways to aid victims in clearing their name and credit more quickly and simply, says the average identity theft victim spends two years, $808, and 175 hours to restore their good name and credit. Many insurers now cover identity theft under their homeowners policies. Although victims are not usually responsible for the bills run up by thieves using their name, there are many expenses due to lost wages, lawyers' fees, certified mail costs, notarizing affidavits, and transcription services.

ID Theft Leads List of U.S. Fraud Complaints

By Reuter's: Monday January 29 11:28 AM ET - Copyright © Reuter's

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Identity theft led the list of fraud complaints filed with the U.S. government in 2000, a federal anti-fraud Web site reported on Monday, to become the fastest-growing crime in the nation.

Reports of stolen Social Security numbers or credit-card accounts made up 23 percent of the 80,000 complaints filed last year, figures on the Consumer Sentinel Web site showed.

Other common complaints included problems with Internet service accounts or computer purchases, sweepstakes and lottery promotions, and Internet-based auctions.

Fraudulent investments were the most damaging financially, costing U.S. consumers at least $38 million in 2000. Business opportunities cost consumers another $34.5 million.

  • Criminals are increasingly using the Social Security numbers or credit-card accounts of others to make purchases or set up new accounts, a practice known as identity theft.
  • Misuse of credit cards accounted for 50 percent of all identity theft complaints in 2000, the FTC said. Criminals also used fake identities to set up false phone or utility bills, banking accounts and loans, and to create fake drivers' licenses, tax returns, and Social Security account.

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