April 18, 2012 §
According to a study of more than 800 households by Affinity Security Center, 28% of women interviewed said they had been the victim of some level of identity theft fraud compared to 21percent of men.
Why is it that women fall victim to identity theft more often than men? Is it because we are more trusting by nature or perhaps more careless with our personal information? Not necessarily either. While many factors contribute to the disparity between men and women, according to the study, one of the biggest factors is on-line shopping. Surprisingly, this digital commerce (purchasing on-line) with built-in technology safeguards, actually makes identity theft more difficult to pursue. Because men engage in more on-line shopping over real world retail, they are actually less prone to identity theft and fraud.Women, on the other hand, tend to have more in-person transactions with restaurants, salon, grocery and store purchases. The report found that most fraud attacks against women occur through in-person purchases, where there is less consumer-control. The report also showed that women are less likely to discover and report the fraud in a timely manner, which unfortunately results in taking longer to restore their identity.
In a separate study by the Identify Theft Assistance Center, about one fourth of all cases of identity theft are committed by a friend, family member, acquaintance or in-house employee. Lost or stolen wallets, checkbooks or credit cards account for about 15 percent of fraud, with mail/trash fraud trailing close behind at 11 percent.
For more information on what to do should you become a victim or to help prevent you from becoming a victim, you can visit the Federal Trade Commission site atwww.ftd.gov. No one is immune – which isn’t to say, that we’re powerless. There’s a lot we can do to deter, detect, and defend ourselves against identify theft.
Kathi Koenig, CPA
Partner – McGowen, Hurst, Clark & Smith, P.C.