BOSTON (TheStreet) -- Thieves, Mother Nature, vandals, arsonists and hackers are all digging deep into our nation's collective wallet.
Each year, losses mount for people and corporations alike from such disparate drains as fire, fraud, flooding and purloined identities.
For example, in 2008, at the heart of the recession, 7.5% of U.S. adults lost money as a result of some sort of financial fraud, according to a survey by Gartner analysts. Payment card fraud -- including credit, debit and ATM cards -- were the most common perpetrated by thieves, claiming 36% more victims that year than other types of fraud.
Gartner found the impact was worst with new account, credit card and brokerage fraud, with average losses per incident totaling $1,097, $929 and $900, respectively.
Institutions lose along with consumers, from a tarnished image that translates into lost business.
Twenty-eight percent of victims of checking- and savings-account transfer fraud say they changed banks as a result of security concerns, Gartner says. This compares with with 5% overall who switched because of concerns regarding the financial health of their banks and 21% who changed because of what they felt were excessive fees.
Credit card fraud
Credit Card fraud costs the U.S. card payments industry an estimated $8.6 billion per year, according to the Aite Group, a Boston-based consultant focused on financial services. Despite the large sum, the firm points out that the losses make up only 0.4% of the $2.1 trillion in total yearly U.S. card volume.
"Fighting card fraud effectively involves triage and telepathy -- picking appropriate battles to fight while anticipating fraudsters' next steps based on the rapidly evolving technological landscape," reads a report it issued on the topic last year.
In response, to "detect and prevent global electronic payments fraud," Visa(V_) announced earlier this month that is has upgraded its global processing platform, allowing it to sort through more data more quickly, target specific types of fraud and better isolate fraudulent transactions from legitimate ones. A statement from the company says the improvements could help it "identify $1.5 billion in fraud, representing a 29% performance improvement from 2009."