Financial fraud and identity theft (FIT) crimes have grown exponentially over the past decade. It has evolved from being narrow and limited, often affecting vulnerable or reckless victims and businesses, to being ubiquitous, affecting all of us. In 2010, FIT affected 1.3 million U.S. citizens with associated losses totaling more than $1.7 billion. 1 Victims experience a variety of negative effects: monetary loss, stress, inconvenience, frustration, possible impact on credit for individual victims, and tarnished brand reputation and decreased revenue for financial institutions and retailers. While some of these crimes continue to be low-tech (for example, stolen checks or credit cards from mailboxes, car prowls, residential burglaries, place of employment), some are becoming increasingly technologically sophisticated (for example, card skimming, network hacking, the sale and purchase of an individual’s personal information accessed through various means), and more frequently involve organized groups with schemes that are constantly shifting to stay one step ahead of detection.
The rise in FIT crimes can be attributed to the ease of committing the crime and the low risks of being caught or injured while committing it, in addition to the struggling economy. As a result of these increases, FIT cases require more resources. From the perspective of the consumer, it translates into additional costs at financial institutions and merchants, regardless of whether or not they have been directly victimized.