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SCOTT JAGOW: Some good news about identity theft this morning. A new report says the number of ID thefts has dropped 12 percent. Three years ago, this was the country's fastest growing crime. Jeff Tyler tells us what may have changed.


JEFF TYLER: Although the report by Javelin Strategy and Research found a big decline in fraudulent new accounts, company president James Van Dyke says identity fraud still costs companies roughly $50 billion a year.


JAMES VAN DYKE: We just took the total down by about $6 billion.

Banks have gotten better at authenticating clients.

Also helping: the shift toward online business.

Van Dyke recommends using the Internet to both receive and pay your credit card statements. Thieves, he says, will steal your outgoing payment right out of your mailbox.

VAN DYKE: Right around the 10th of the month. There's a little flag telling them they're there. Those are called "steal-me" flags by local police forces. There's your outgoing check.

The Internet also allows consumers to monitor their financial accounts closely. According to the study, half of all identify fraud cases are spotted first by the victim.

I'm Jeff Tyler for Marketplace.

Follow Jeff Tyler at @JeffMarketplace