72% of identity theft in 2004 happened offline

Federal regulators warn that the Internet is the thriving frontier for identity theft, but 72% of the thefts of personal information for scams last year was done offline. Identity theft cost Americans $52.6 bln in 2004. Thieves got their victims’ bank or credit information online in just 12% of the cases. Friends, family members and neighbors account for half of all known thieves, and on average cost a consumer $15,607. That compares with $2,320 for an online huckster. When victims discovered fraud through the Internet, their loss was $551. But when they realized the fraud only after receiving mailed statements, it cost them $4,543.