ID theft cases on the decline

LAWRENCEVILLE - ID theft cases declined for the second year in a row, according to a study released Tuesday.

About 8.9 million Americans were victims of identity fraud, a nearly 12 percent decrease from 2003, according to the Javelin Strategy & Research report. Identity theft generally involves taking personal information off stolen credit cards or other financial documents. Sometimes the information can be obtained illegally online.

The average amount stolen from each victim increased almost 22 percent to $6,383, according to the report.

CheckFree Corp., the Norcross-based electronic payment systems company, helped sponsor the study.

Among the findings:

•30 percent of the cases involved lost or stolen wallets, credit cards or checkbooks.

•Friends, neighbors, relatives and in-home employees perpetrate 15 percent of overall ID fraud.

•6 percent of fraud cases were due to thefts from companies that handle financial data, such as the recent Atlanta-area firm ChoicePoint.

The Federal Trade Commission last week fined the data broker $15 million after the company's security was breached.