Losses from identity theft in the U.S. declined 11.5% in 2006 compared to a year ago, but they still account for $49.3 billion.
The average identity theft fraud fell 9 percent to $5,720 from $6,278, while the median--where half were larger and half were smaller--held steady at $750.
"Businesses are doing a better job screening, and consumers are doing better at locking up information and monitoring their accounts," James Van Dyke, founder and president of Pleasanton, Calif.-based Javelin, said in an interview.
"The dollar amount is dropping," he added, "but $49 billion is still a lot of money."
According to the study, 8.4 million adult Americans, or one in 27, learned last year that criminals committed fraud with personal data such as credit card or Social Security numbers. That's down from 8.9 million in 2005 and 10.1 million in 2003.
Adults under 25, African-Americans and people who make more than $150,000 were among the groups most likely to suffer fraud, the study said. The youngest adults were also among the least likely to take steps to stop it, the study said.