Tiversa yesterday announced the findings of new research that reveals an unprecedented rise in identity theft-related searches in the fall of 2008, an overall increase of 32 percent. In the midst of the nation's largest economic downturn since the Great Depression, Tiversa is finding evidence that identity thieves are on the hunt once again, continuing to find new ways to extract sensitive information to commit fraud on unsuspecting victims.

The research is based on search data in an ongoing 18 month study by Tiversa, whose patent-pending technology monitors roughly 450 million users issuing more than 1.5 billion searches a day. Data shows that search intent for sensitive information is on the rise, citing keywords related to personal banking logins, passwords, tax returns, credit card, account numbers, credit reports, and medical information.

"As the leaders in this space, we've been seeing this trend continue on an upward path for the last few years," says Robert Boback, Tiversa's CEO. "At this time, more than ever before, consumers need to remain vigilant of their sensitive information."

According to the Federal Trade Commission, as many as 9 million Americans have their identities stolen each year. Typical identity theft victims spend hundreds of hours trying to repair damage done to their credit record and can be denied loans for housing, education and cars. In the case of medical fraud, victims can be misdiagnosed, prescribed the wrong medicines, and even billed for procedures they never even had.

"The intent is clearly demonstrated in the data we see in our research and day-to-day operations. We've validated time and time again, that actual fraud is committed by malicious individuals when presented the opportunity," comments Boback.

A national survey, conducted by the Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC) and Fellowes, states that consumers remain aware that the threat of identity theft is real, with a vast majority (85 percent) of Americans agreeing that identity theft can happen anywhere and at any time.