E-mail spam is no longer merely an annoyance. In the past, the biggest thing we worried about was having our computers contract a virus or a Trojan horse from opening an infected e-mail. We still have that to worry about, but now, certain nasty e-mail scams actually pose a danger to our personal financial well-being. Identity fraud is the fastest-growing white-collar crime — and spam is one of its most common tools.
To put even more of the fear into you, here is a scary statistic: Identitytheft complaints to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) made up a whopping 32 percent of the total number of complaints the agencyreceived in 2007. The FTC reports that 27.3 million Americans have beenvictims of identity theft from 2001 through 2006, including 9.9 millionpeople in 2006 alone. According to the FTC, identity-theft losses to businessesand financial institutions in 2006 totaled nearly $48 billion — andconsumer victims reported $5 billion in out-of-pocket expenses. How dothese identity theft crimes break down?
Credit-card fraud: 23 percent
Utilities/phone fraud: 18 percent
Employment fraud: 14 percent
Bank fraud: 13 percent
The risk doesn't end with this list. At one time, a massive hue and cry arose over how shopping on the Internet (especially eBay) was the source of the most fraud in the United States. In 2007, online shoppingslipped down the list considerably. Take a look at Table 33-1 to see aranking of consumer complaints to the ...