Mexico now ranks in the top ten for identity thefts worldwide and is the highest ranked country in Latin America, according to an international firm which specializes in identity theft prevention.
The report, presented by Alfonso Flores, the General Director of the CPP in Mexico, did not provide exact numbers on the rate with which the crime is growing, but did state that reported cases have risen in the last three to four years, coinciding with a worldwide increase.
Flores went on to explain that the increase in identity theft cases can be attributed to a fast growing national economy, and to increased access to banking services enjoyed by the middle and working class.
He added that resolving an identity theft case can cost over $23,000 and take up to 600 hours.
InSight Crime Analysis
As El Economista reports, part of the CPP’s study was based on an experiment, in which company employees planted 500 wallets across Mexico’s capital city, with phone numbers and other personal identity information inside. The CPP then tracked how many wallets were actually returned: just 47, or nine percent. According to the CPP’s data, nine out of 10 Mexicans carry sufficient information in their wallets to be victims of identity fraud, should the wallets be lost or stolen.
Nevertheless, there is reason to question the study, as it is being presented by a company dedicated to selling identity protection services and thus with an incentive to exaggerate the level of threat. The CPP has also seen some black marks against its reputation. As recently as last year, the CPP was the target of an investigation by the Financial Services Authority (FSA) in the United Kingdom for “serious offenses” that resulted in the company being fined more than $22.9 million. The FSA said the CPP embellished the dangers associated with identity theft while selling credit card insurance.
Identity theft is one of many forms of cyber crime in Mexico. In 2009, police responded to nearly 1,400 complaints related to cyber crime, with more than half of the cases involving fraud. Cyber security is an increasingly important issue in the country, coming on the heels of a high-level security breach in Mexico by hacker group Anonymous, which was reportedly able to obtain the personal data of 25,000 members of the military.