Crime pays for identity thieves

Tuesday, 22 July 2003, 2:41 AM EST

The research firm estimates that 3.4 percent of U.S. consumers--about 7 million adults--have been victims of identity theft of some form in the past year. Moreover, arrests in identity theft cases are extremely rare, catching the perpetrator in only one out of every 700 cases, said Avivah Litan, vice president of financial service for Gartner.

"The odds are really stacked against the consumers," she said. "Unfortunately, they are the only ones with a vested interest in fixing the problem."

The release of the survey comes as state and federal governments are trying to stem the problem of identity theft. On July 1, California started requiring companies to report to consumers any incident that may have compromised their personal data. And new national legislation, the Fair Credit Reporting Act, would help protect victims once they determined that their identity had been stolen.

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