It's time to keep an eagle eye on your finances.
Some 15.4 million consumers were victims of identity theft or fraud last year, according to a new report from Javelin Strategy & Research. That's up 16 percent from 2015, and the highest figure recorded since the firm began tracking fraud instances in 2004.
"All of the underlying types of fraud we measure are up," said Al Pascual, a senior vice president and research director for Javelin.
Card-not-present fraud — transactions made online or via phone where the cardholder does not need to present the physical card to complete the purchase — jumped the most, increasing 40 percent compared to 2015. Account takeover fraud — where thieves used stolen login information to access a consumer's accounts — rose 31 percent, and instances where fraudsters opened new accounts in a consumer's name were up 20 percent.
In all, thieves stole $16 billion, the report found — nearly $1 billion more than in 2015.
"Our [password] hygiene is very poor, and criminals know it." -Al Pascual, senior vice president and research director for Javelin.
The one bright spot amid all this rising fraud is that tech-savvy consumers tend to spot it quickly, minimizing the financial damage, Pascual said. The mean fraud amount per victim was $1,038, down from $1,165 in 2015.
Victims' out-of-pocket costs are even less, thanks to fraud protections governing credit and debit cards. The mean cost to the consumer was just $48, down from $56, according to the report.
More than three-quarters of victims who make frequent online purchases detected fraud within a week of it beginning, the report found. (The catch: Consumers with a heavy social media or online presence were also more likely to be fraud targets.) In comparison, "offline consumers" who don't do much shopping or banking online took more than 40 days to spot fraud, incurring more losses as a result.
"For them, when we make a recommendation, it's become more digitally engaged," Pascual said.