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February 02, 2010

Stay OFF the tennis court! Tennis is the most common trait of identity theft victims

Guess Tiger Woods is safe from this one.  But Venus Williams, Andre Agassi, John McEnroe and Anna Kournikova better watch out.  Experian has compiles what it sees as the most common traits of an identity theft victim.  The most common?  Tennis.  Yes, tennis.  Check out the article below.
Most Common Traits of ID Theft Victims
by Jeremy M. Simon
Friday, January 29, 2010
Wealthy consumers who enjoy leisure activities such as tennis, skiing and international vacations are top targets for identity thieves, according to a new report.
A report released Wednesday by credit bureau Experian shows that fraudsters are on the hunt for the most affluent suburban consumers. Compared to the general population of credit applicants, Experian says these consumers live in and around metropolitan areas, favor leisure activities, have college diplomas or advanced degrees and more often tend to be married.
Affluent are more often victims of ID theft, report shows”The crooks are going where the money is,” says Gail Hillebrand, senior attorney with Consumers Union, the nonprofit publisher of Consumer Reports magazine.
Most Common Traits, Activities
Experian identifies the common activities of those most often victimized by ID theft:
• Tennis

• Politics

• Foreign travel

• Charities/volunteering

• Cultural/arts

• Skiing
Where — and how — these consumers live also seems to make them more of a target. “The opportunities to steal discarded documents would be greater in suburban areas,” says Linda Sherry, director of national priorities with advocacy group Consumer Action. “More affluent households may have domestic help and service people who may have the opportunity to steal personal info from the home that can be used to acquire credit.”
How did Experian identify this group of wealthy victims? The bureau’s Fraud and Identity Solutions group — in conjunction with Experian Marketing Services — compared credit application data with thousands of individual fraud records between January 2007 and November 2008. It found that three of its 12 demographic groups were the most highly sought-after by identity thieves: “affluent suburbia,” “upscale American” and the more middle-class “American diversity” category of consumers.
Experian found that compared with the general population of credit applicants, the consumers most often victimized by fraudsters tend to own more new and luxury vehicles and live in higher-income neighborhoods that contain many more homeowners than renters. Additionally, these borrowers tend to be based in densely populated metropolitan areas and often reside in multifamily homes or condos.
Thieves aren’t the only group focusing on wealthy borrowers. “Lenders are obviously targeting some of these demographics as well,” with better and more frequent offers of financial goods and services, says Keir Breitenfeld, director of product management for Experian’s Fraud and Identity Solutions group. As a result, thieves who target these consumers and steal their information have an easier time getting credit and services in their victims’ names. “If you’re a fraudster, you want to assume the identity of someone who can go out and get high-value services,” Breitenfeld says.
How to Protect Yourself
Consumer advocates, meanwhile, say that if the affluent can be victimized by ID thieves, anyone can. “You can’t protect yourself. Even the most affluent suburban households, it’s still happening to them,” Hillebrand says. She says that banks and other institutions have an obligation to better guard consumer data. “We don’t have much control over that as individual consumers. People who receive our data decide how carefully to protect our information,” Hillebrand says.
However, Experian says lenders need to strike a balance between guarding consumers and not making them struggle unnecessarily to get approved for credit. If consumers must jump through too many hoops in order to get a loan, Experian says, the bank may end up losing their business. Still, Experian says its report suggests that financial institutions may want to do more to protect certain high-risk borrowers.

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