So the final word is out: phishing is a lot more dangerous than identity theft. At least, that's what you might conclude from two studies that appeared almost simultaneously.
Yesterday AOL Time Warner, together with the thoroughly bureaucratic-sounding National Cyber Security Alliance, reported that you run a 25% chance of being targeted by phishers (thanks Reuters for the simple graphic). The next day saw fraud detection company ID Analytics releasing a report claiming that identity theft with credit cards is not that big a problem.
Turns out, it takes a lot more time faking an identity than reporting a stolen card, so for criminals it ain't worth the effort. Interestingly, the analysis also found out that the bigger the credit card security breach, the smaller the chance that you'll be the victim. There's a very logical explanation for this: fraudsters can use stolen identities at a rate of 100 to 250 times a year. So if someone hacks 40 million card accounts or so, the chance is less than 1 in 100,000 that the hacker steals your identity instead of someone else's.
That's vaguely reassuring.