The number of identity frauds occurring in the United States is rising. According to the 2010 Identity Fraud Survey Report by Javelin Strategy and Research, "More than 11 million adult consumers became victims of identity fraud in 2009, up from nearly 10 million in 2008."
Identity fraud can ruin lives as is evident in this case found on www.spendonlife.ca: "Malcolm Byrd, father of two children, suffered perhaps the worst case scenario of identity theft. Back in 1998, a man was arrested on drug charges and identified himself as Malcolm Byrd. Byrd just happened to find out he was the victim of identity theft when he read the next morning's newspaper. He immediately went down to the police station and corrected the error.
A few months later, Byrd was pulled over for speeding. He found himself thrown to the pavement and handcuffed by policemen who believed they had the suspect who was wanted for drug dealing. Though the case was again cleared, Byrd wound up losing his part-time job as a nursing assistant for not having come forward about his criminal record. A few months later, he was laid-off from his full-time job and denied unemployment insurance, again, because of his criminal record.
But this was far from the end of his nightmare. His license got suspended by the DMV for failure to pay traffic fines, which was of course a crime committed by the same imposter. A few years later Byrd had lent his car to his niece. Police pulled her over asking where Malcolm Byrd was. They arrested him in his home and Byrd spent the next two days in jail."
While Byrd's story is extreme, the new 2010 Identity Fraud Survey Report shows a clear trend: young adults from ages 18-24 are being targeted more than any other age group. This may be because young adults ages 18-24 are also the slowest to realize that they have been attacked by an identity thief.
So how do you protect yourself from being a victim?
According to the Consumer Response Center of the United States Federal Trade Commission, the three "D's" are an important start: Deter, Detect, and Defend.