Survey: Identity theft up, but costs fall sharply

NEW YORK (AP) - The number of Americans victimized by identity theft is on the rise.

But at the same time, victims are striking back quicker and limiting how much is stolen.

A study released by Javelin Strategy and Research says the number of reported identity theft cases jumped 22 percent last year, to 9.9 million. But it also says the cost per incident, including unrecovered losses and legal fees, fell 31 percent, to less than $500.

One reason for the spike in cases is likely the worsening economy. A Javelin spokesman says "criminals are getting more desperate."

The survey says almost half of the cases are linked to stolen wallets, while only 11 percent of the victims had their identities stolen over the Internet. Women are 26 percent more likely to be victims of identity theft.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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