Credit card frauds and data breach incidents have been dominating the headlines for quite some time. But how often do you actually pay attention to the problem. Most of us are under the impression that identity theft could never happen to us, thinking: “I am always careful with my personal documents and I am also diligent about changing my passwords for safety sake.” But is that enough to prevent identity theft?
Identity thieves are getting smarter. Imposters continue to find new and more ways to commit the crime making identity theft the fastest growing crime in America. According to the Federal Trade Commission, identity theft is the most common consumer complains. Still looking to quantify the seriousness of identity theft? This article contains all the disconcerting and interesting statistics revolving around identity theft. Take a look.
#1 Consumer Complain for 15 years running
Identity theft has topped the U.S Federal Trade Commission’s complains ranking for 15 years running. Identity theft accounts for 13 percent of the complaints, which makes it the number one concern of the Consumer Sentinel Network. 39% of the cases reported misusing of information to get government documents or benefits fraudulently and 17% of the complaint cases were regarding credit card frauds. Imposter scams moved to the third place of consumer complaints.
Credit Card Fraud
Do you know in 2014, approximately 31.8 million Americans had their credit cards breached. Undoubtedly, there has been a considerable advancement in technology, for example EMV chips have been designed to protect the consumers from frauds. But with the substantial increase in credit card frauds we can’t help but think that the hackers are just as fervently seeking ways to overcome the heightened security measures.
According to another report from Barclays, 47% of all the world’s credit card frauds happen in the United State of America. Not only has this, the high level of credit and debit card frauds that happen in the US, has had a tremendous impact on the other countries as well. United States scored the highest points (35%) among the total fraud related losses to the UK-issued cards in 2015.
According to a latest report released by the Identity Theft Resource Center the number of U.S. data breaches totaled 781 in 2015. The years saw an 8.4 percent hump in the hacking incidents as compared to the 2014 figures. This is the second highest year since 2005 when the ITRC began tracking breaches. Although the most common motive behind the data breaches is financial gain, but the current stats show a shift the motive. The criminals intend to obtain sensitive and private data in order to compel behavior changes in the individuals or groups whose personal information has been compromised.
Medical Identity Theft
Federal Trade Commission started documenting medical identity theft cases starting from 1992. Since then, there has been a substantial rise in the number of cases reported annually. There were 500,000 victims of medical identity theft in 2014 alone. In most of the cases the victims incur charges for medical care they didn’t even receive just because their computerized medical records were stolen. Many victims experience raised premiums and half of the cases result in the victims’ losing their medical coverage entirely.
College Students at Risk
College students are equally at risk of identity theft. According to the Federal Trade Commission every one in five identity theft complaints they received were from young adults in the age group of 20-19. College students become an easy target for the identity thieves as they spend most of their time online and often have a clean credit score. College students live in an open environment with multiple points of vulnerability including the unsecured college networks and extensive use of public Wi-Fi etc. Apart from that students might use social security number for identification processes, which makes their personal information easily accessible.
Identity Theft Costs
Javelin Strategy & Research recently released their 2016 Identity Fraud Study, which shows the toll identity theft has had financially in the past years. The research found that $16 billion were stolen from 12.7 million consumers in 2014 and $15 billion were stolen from 13.1 U.S consumers in 2015. In total, $112 billion have been lost to identity theft in the past six years.
Talking about the costs to victims, according to the U.S Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics, two third of identity theft victims experienced direct financial loss of $7,761 on an average. This is the average amount criminals obtained after misusing a victim’s account or personal information. Apart from that victims also lose a considerable amount recovering from identity theft through legal fees, insurance consulting services etc. Victims also face non-monetary costs as well including emotional distress, time and harassment from creditors.
What are the odds against you?
So, are you still wondering: what are the odds of your becoming a victim of identity theft? According to the United States Department of Justice, 7% of all the households had at least one person in the family at or over the age of 12 who has been subjected to some form of identity theft. Still not convinced? Do you know from 2005 to 2010, 64.1% of the instances were related to credit card fraud? Credit card fraud is the fastest growing type of identity theft and we all own credit cards, which make us a potential victim.
Preventative Measures and Discovery
It is estimated that roughly 85% of U.S. residents actively took steps to prevent being a victim to identity theft. People took multiple measures for preventing identity theft which includes shredding documents that contained personal information, changing passwords affiliated with financial accounts and keeping tabs on credit reports.
Among all the identity theft cases which were reported during the recent years 45% of the victims found out about the crime after their financial institution notified them of suspicious activities. Also, majority of identity theft victims noted that they were not aware of how their personal information was stolen and neither had they known anything about the culprit.
We encourage you to stay aware about identity theft and take all the necessary precautions to avoid becoming a victim. Knowledge is power when it comes to fighting identity theft.