According to Javelin Strategy & Research's 2011 Identity Fraud Survey Report, there was a 28% drop in the number of victims of identity fraud in 2010. Additionally, the number of reported data breaches dropped significantly (404 reported breaches in 2010, down from 604 in 2009). Finally, the report states that "only" 26 million records were reportedly exposed in 2010 compared to a whopping 221 million exposed in 2009. James Van Dyke, president and founder of Javelin Strategy & Research, attributed (i) increased educational efforts by business, the financial services industry, and government agencies and (ii) "[e]conomic conditions" as contributing factors in the reduction in identity fraud over the past year.

Not all metrics improved however. The report stated that the consumer out-of-pocket costs rose significantly from $387 in 2009 to $631 in 2010. The reason for the out-of-pocket increase may be attributed to more "focused" attacks on individuals and an increase in, what the report refers to as, "friendly fraud." What we don't know is whether the fewer victims facing greater damages is solely the result of more effective, if less widespread, attacks, or if there are other factors at play. What is also unknown is what caused the almost 10 fold drop in the number of records reportedly exposed in 2010. Could this be due to more improved data security tools and practices, or an increased resistance by businesses to report breach events, especially in those instances where conclusively determining that a reportable breach occurred is not possible?

The report also provides six "Safety Tips" to protect consumers:

  1. Keep personal data private
  2. Don't overshare on social networks
  3. Use debit cards wisely
  4. Be vigilant in monitoring credit and financial account
  5.  Learn about identity protection services
  6. Report problems immediately

Although the Javelin report brings us good news, it will be interesting to see if these trends continue.