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Identity thieves are claiming fewer victims, but those victims are spending a lot more time and money resolving the incidents, according to a survey by research firm Javelin Strategy & Research.

About 8.1 million people were victims of identify fraud in 2010, down from about 11 million people in 2009, according to the poll. Last year saw the lowest number of victims since at least 2003, when regulators began keeping identify-theft records.

Meanwhile, the amount bilked through fraudulent accounts fell to $37 billion from $56 billion in 2009.

What's causing the decline? For one thing, financial regulations have forced businesses to become more vigilant about reporting potential data breaches to customers.

Still, the incidents are becoming harder to track because more thieves are using new accounts, as opposed to existing credit cards or bank accounts, to conduct fraud.

In average, fraud victims spent 33 hours resolving their cases last year, up from about 12 hours in 2009, InformationWeek reported.


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