It's time to start paying closer attention to your credit report.
The days of spotting an unauthorized charge on your credit card aren't over, but criminals have been increasingly focused on perpetuating a kind of fraud that's harder for consumers to spot and can be more difficult to fight — opening new credit cards and other accounts in the victim's name. Such "new account fraud" jumped 113 percent in 2015, and now represents 20 percent of all fraud losses, according to a new report from Javelin Strategy & Research.
"It's shifting to a more damaging type of fraud for consumers," said Al Pascual, director of fraud and security for Javelin.
Fraud losses from unauthorized purchases or withdrawals on an existing account fell from $14 billion to $12 billion last year, the report says, contributing to an overall decline in fraud losses for 2015. But those stemming from new account fraud increased from $2 billion to $3 billion.
While increased consumer protections in recent years have helped, victims who have had an unauthorized account opened in their name still spend three times as long unraveling the problem as victims of existing account fraud (15 versus five hours), and have out-of-pocket costs almost five times as high (a mean $252, versus $52).