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Banks, merchants, employers and other businesses are investing more in innovative technologies to combat identification theft, from fingerprint authentication to retina scanning. Yet high-tech frauds continue, and criminals are changing their tactics.

The weak link? In many cases, consumers are letting their guards down, especially when dealing through email, texting and other social channels with people they assume are friends or good acquaintances but might not be.

Identity theft criminals stole $52 billion last year, according to a new report from Javelin Strategy & Research, which extrapolated the number from a survey of 5,000 consumers. Some 42 million people were victimized.

And while consumers didn’t absorb all or even most of those financial losses — as with most fraudulent credit card purchases — they still paid a toll in terms of stress, time and the hassle of clearing up these problems, averaging nine hours to resolve ID-theft financial issues.



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