Approximately 8.4 million Americans reported being a victim of ID theft in 2007. In 2008, the number of reported identity theft victims increased to 10 million, an increase of 19 percent.
Nearly half the people interviewed in a recent National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) survey conducted by Harris Interactive felt more at risk for identity theft when making a purchase with a credit card when the credit card temporarily left their sight, for example, at a restaurant.
By contrast, the same study revealed that consumers are least fearful of falling victim to identity theft when their credit card does not leave their sight, for instance at a store. Only 21 percent of U.S. adults listed this as a concern, suggesting that consumers are comfortable as long as they can keep an eye on their card.
What the survey did not reveal is that a stolen credit card number and potential identity theft can happen when the credit card doesn't even leave your hand, much less your sight. This can happen if there is a device attached to an ATM or other card reader that steals the information off the card when swiped. These devices can be very small and hardly noticeable unless the consumer is paying close attention.
So the survey, while probably accurate for what consumers think, reveals that consumer fears are likely misplaced.