MyPrivateCredit: Identity Theft on the Rise in this Economy

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The experts at MyPrivateCredit explain how the economy is affecting instances of credit fraud and data theft.

The experts at MyPrivateCredit explain how the economy is affecting instances of credit fraud and data theft.

2008 Identity Theft Highlights

  •     August 5, 2008: Eleven people were indicted on a number of charges in connection with the hacking of nine major U.S retailers to steal and sell more than 40 million credit and debit card numbers. (
  •     June 27, 2008: Hackers extracted stolen information from an online database that held credit card information. 51,000 people were affected. (
  •     September 12, 2008: Tennessee State University announced a flash drive containing the financial information and Social Security numbers of students was reported missing. The flash drive contained financial information for students dating back to 2002. (
  •     The Identity Theft Resource Center announced that data breach is up 69% more in 2008 than in 2007. (Identity Theft Resource Center)
  •     At least 8.3 million personal and financial records of consumers were potentially compromised by data spills or breaches at businesses, universities and government agencies in the first quarter of 2008. (Washington Post)

There were thousands of similar cases in 2008 when consumer information was stolen. Why is there such a rise in the hijacking of personal consumer data?

Many economists are blaming the economy…at least partly.

The sluggish economy of 2008 may not be the direct cause of identity theft. The amount of personal data being released through the internet and more sophisticated hacking tools has contributed greatly, but the economy has certainly added to the record rise of credit fraud. Identity theft and credit fraud has been rising for some time now, but 2008 saw a massive increase in identity theft victims, concordantly this also implies that the number of identity thieves is also rising.

Once your information is stolen, it is sold in underground markets to identity thieves for low prices. Buyers use this information to participate in a host of illegal credit fraud activities. These shoppers are increasing and the underground market for credit information is expanding. It seems that as our economy continues to struggle, the underground economy continues to flourish.

Identity theft and data hijacking are on the rise as everyday consumers fight to adjust to soaring gas prices, diminishing property rates and other economic hardships as a result of our failing economy. To suggest there is a correlation between the sluggish economy and the booming identity theft market is plausible. It is simply the free market theory of supply and demand. As economic hardships grow within any society, new revenue streams will emerge, and these revenue streams are often illegal. This simple model is apparent in any low-income/high-crime area in America. Areas, where money is difficult to acquire through traditional means will spawn nontraditional, often unethical, ways of acquiring money. As the computer savvy middle-class encounters barriers to financial mobility, more buyers are migrating to the underground market. An increase in demand requires an increase in supplies, thus the theft of personal information is on the rise to meet the needs of increased identity thieves. The statistics on data breach supports this idea as well.

  •     Insider Theft (stolen by internal employees): 2008 - 15.8% 2007 - 6.0%
  •     Subcontractor (stolen or lost by a second party): 2008 - 13.5% 2007 - 11.4%

Source: Identity Theft Resource Center

Last year identity theft cost victims more than the estimated total illegal US drug trade. With the cases of identity theft and data theft on the rise, 2008 is sure to see the cost of identity theft victims at an all-time high by the close of the year.

As an everyday consumer in this economy, it is essential to protect yourself from credit theft. It is difficult enough to maintain your lifestyle in this economy, without having an identity thief emptying your checking account. Even consumers who take the usual precautions can have their information stolen from retailers they have purchased from. Identity theft is not a passing fad. Credit monitoring and other credit reporting services are essential for anyone who uses or owns a credit card.

Protect your credit today by purchasing a 3-bureau credit report from, and ensure that your identity and credit are safe.


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Scott Mangini
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