The number of identity fraud incidents decreased by more than a quarter in the US last year, recording the lowest levels since 2007, said a survey by Javelin Strategy & Research.

The survey showed that the number of victims of identity thefts fell by 28 percent to 8.1 million adults in the US, down 3 million compared with the previous year.

Also, the annual fraud amount decreased to $37 billion in 2010 from $56 in 2009, the smallest in the eight years of the study.

“Identity fraud underwent a marked decline and shift over the past year. This great news is a testament to the significant efforts businesses, the financial services industry and government agencies are making to educate consumers, protect data, and prevent and resolve identity fraud,” said James Van Dyke, president and founder of Javelin Strategy & Research.

Despite the overall decline in fraud, consumer out-of-pocket costs rose significantly, mainly due to the types of fraud that were successfully perpetrated and an increase in “friendly fraud”, the report said.

The mean consumer out-of-pocket cost due to identity fraud increased 63 percent from $387 in 2009 to $631 per incident in 2010, the survey said.

Of all types of frauds, new account fraud accounted for $17 billion last year. Existing card fraud dropped to $14 billion in 2010 from $23 billion in 2009.

New account fraud, in which accounts have been opened without the victim’s knowledge, is harder to detect and is the most likely to severely impact the victims, the research firm said.

The survey found ‘friendly fraud’ on the rise which grew 7 percent last year, with consumers between the ages of 25-34 most likely to be victims of this type of fraud.

People in this age group are most likely to have their Social Security number (SSN) stolen—with 41 percent of fraud victims in this group reporting theft of their SSN, the survey said.