With all the media emphasis on Internet-related fraud and identity theft, one might think the Internet is a dangerous place for commerce.
As it turns out, though the Internet certainly has its risks, incidents of fraud and identity theft from other more traditional means outnumber those online.
If recent stats are to be trusted, incidents of fraud from Internet-based means may well be on the decline.
According to a new report from Javelin Strategy and Research, in cases where the source of the identity theft was known, only 9 percent were reported to have come from hacking, viruses and phishing.
In contrast, a lost or stolen wallet or credit/debit card was the cause of 30 percent of the incidents.
The study also found that fraudulent activity is mostly (over 70 percent) conducted offline via phone or mail.
That’s not to say that there isn’t a nefarious angle to online fraud. Average losses results from Internet-related identity theft fraud have ballooned over the last year to $6,432, up from $2,897.
In the same period losses from ID theft taken from the garbage or mail have declined by 14 percent.
Also of note is the fact that phishing in particular was reported to have the highest average length of misuse at 173 days. In comparison, data taken by friends, acquaintances, relatives or in-home employees was used for 134 days and lost or stolen credit cards for only 75 days.
“With the appropriate security and consumer education, phishing on existing accounts can be minimized,” Rubina Johannes, research analyst at Javelin Strategy & Research told internetnews.com. “However, to stop phishing on new accounts is more difficult.”