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Identity Theft and Fraud Information

Facts and statistics regarding identity theft and fraud

  • Fraud is a broad area of crime encompassing everything from forging a signature on a check to filing a false insurance claim. Identity theft is a specific form of fraud that occurs when an imposter obtains key pieces of personal information about a consumer—such as a Social Security or a driver’s license number—and uses that information to impersonate the consumer by obtaining credit, merchandise or services in the name of the victim. (Source: "Identifying Your Role," ACA International Compliance Dept., Collector magazine, November 2006.)
  • The terms "identity fraud" and "identity theft" are often used interchangeably, but there are important distinctions between the two. "Identity fraud is defined as the unauthorized use of another person’s personal information to achieve illicit financial gain. Identity fraud can range from simply using a stolen payment card account, to making a fraudulent purchase, to taking control of existing accounts," according to Javelin Strategy & Research. For example, if someone steals your credit card and makes purchases, you have been the victim of identity fraud. Conversely, identity theft occurs when personal information is accessed by someone else without permission. For example, if somone found your Social Security number on a document in your trash and applied for a new credit card in your name and used it, you have been the victim of identity theft. (Sources: "Identifying Your Role," ACA International Compliance Dept., Collector magazine, November 2006; "2015 Identity Fraud Study," Javelin Strategy & Research, March 2015.)
  • A 2015 Javelin Strategy and Research report found that 12.7 million people were victims of identity fraud in the United States during the past year, which is one victim every 2 seconds. As a result, $16 billion was stolen from consumers. (Source: "2015 Identity Fraud Report," Javelin Strategy & Research, March 2015.)
  • Two-thirds of identity fraud victims in 2014 had previously received a data breach notification in the same year. (Source: "2015 Identity Fraud Report," Javelin Strategy & Research, March 2015)
  • The Federal Trade Commission reported receiving more than 330,000 identity theft complaints from consumers, making it the top complaint for the 15th consecutive year. (Source: FTC 2014 Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book," February 2015.)
  • The most common form of reported identity theft was government documents/benefits fraud (39 percent) in 2014, followed by credit card fraud (17 percent), phone or utilities fraud (13 percent), and bank fraud (8 percent). Other significant categories of identity theft reported by victims were employment-related fraud (5 percent) and loan fraud (24percent.) (Source: Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book January-December 2014 for the Federal Trade Commission, February 2015.)
  • More than half of identity theft victims who were able to resolve any associated problems did so in a day or less; among victims who had personal information used for fraudulent purposes, 29 percent spent a month or more resolving problems.(Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics: Victims of Identity Theft, 2012.)
  • Direct and indirect losses from identity theft totaled $24.7 billion in 2012. (Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics: Victims of Identity Theft, 2012.)
  • In 2012, the unauthorized misuse or attempted misuse of an existing account was the most common type of identity theft, experienced by 15.3 million persons age 16 or older (6 percent of all persons.) The majority of victims experienced the fraudulent use of their credit cards (7.7 million or 3 percent of all persons) or bank accounts (7.5 million or 3 percent of all persons). Another 1.7 million victims (0.7% of all persons) experienced other types of existing account theft, such as misuse or attempted misuse of an existing telephone, online, or insurance account. (Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics: Victims of Identity Theft, 2012.)
  • The way victims discovered that their identifying information was misused varied by the type of identity theft. Among victims who experienced the unauthorized use of an existing account, 45 percent discovered the identity theft when a financial institution contacted them about suspicious activity on their account. In comparison, 15 percent of victims who experienced the misuse of personal information to open a new account or for other fraudulent purposes discovered the incident when a financial institution contacted them. (Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics: Victims of Identity Theft, 2012.)

 

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