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Level of credit score reveals rate of identity theft

Jan 13, 2012 Matt Roesly

This holiday season, financial institutions may be handling an increased amount of loan requests as consumers are trying to make up for losses following a period of huge spending. According to OutRight, 152 million Americans spent $52 billion during Black Friday weekend. Unfortunately, some of those sales were by fraudulent credit card users. Understanding which individuals identity thieves are most likely to target can help a financial institution assess the legitimacy of a loan request. According to the Federal Trade Commission, 2010 saw more than 250,000 identity theft complaints received by the organization. Although advancement in technology, such as smartphones and mobile wallets, has streamlined the way individuals can make financial decisions, it has also created extra avenues for identity thieves to obtain personal information. Through malware, phone extraction devices and by way of device theft, criminals can gain a person's credit card details, social security number and address. Cases of theft may never be completely eradicated, but a study from a leading financial solutions agency reveals that it's possible to know the most likely  victims. According to the agency, "although there may be fraud attempted against those with lower credit scores, it is less likely that those attempts will come to fruition. In essence, those with lower credit scores may be relatively safe from identity fraud simply because their scores are likely to be a barrier to entry in opening a credit-based account such as a credit card or a loan." The report shows that credit scores with a score of 556 and lower had a 4 percent rate of identity theft, while those with a credit score above 815 had a theft rate of 48 percent. Financial professionals reviewing loans from individuals should be aware of these statistics before approval. Background checks and identity verification are essential for loans, especially for applicants with high credit scores. This shouldn’t mean that applicants with lower credit scores should be overlooked. While the rate of theft is less among those with lower credit scores, identity thieves may sporadically take advantage of this knowledge and try to catch a financial institution off guard.