Shocking! No. 1 Source of Identity Theft About half of all identity theft is committed by close friends and relatives, who lift a wallet or pocketbook and not only steal the bills and credit cards inside, but also the identity that goes with it. That's the shocking conclusion of a new survey of 4,000 consumers, about 500 of whom were identity theft victims, that was conducted by Javelin Research and the Better Business Bureau for CheckFree Services Corp., Visa USA, and Wells Fargo Bank, report MarketWatch and The Associated Press. The most frequently cited sources of identity theft: * Lost or stolen wallet: 29 percent * Corrupt employees: 9 percent * Stolen mail: 8 percent * Spyware on the computer: 5 percent * Sifting through garbage: 2.6 percent * Computer viruses: 2.2 percent * "Phishing" through fraudulent e-mail: 1.7 percent If a relative or friend rips off your wallet, you're also likely to pay more in dollar terms than if a stranger steals your identity. MarketWatch reports that families and friends made off with $15,607 on average, compared with the $9,243 on average stolen through mail theft, and $2,320 ripped off in online scams. But here's another cold fact: In fully 75 percent of the cases of identity theft, the victim has no clue who committed the crime. The most difficult form of identity theft to detect is new account fraud. This occurs when a new credit card account is set up using the victim's personal information. This also tends to result in the highest dollar hit. New account fraud leads to a $12,646 hit per victim on average, compared with $9,912 for existing non-credit-card accounts and $5,803 for existing credit-card accounts, reports MarketWatch.