Credit card fraud and data breach incidents have dominated 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. Imposers continue to find new and more effective ways to scam their victims. Now identity theft is one of the fastest-growing crimes 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.
Identity theft has topped the U.S Federal Trade Commission’s complaints ranking for 15 years running. Identity theft accounts for 13% of the complaints, making it the number one concern of the Consumer Sentinel Network. 39% of the cases reported missing information to get government documents or benefits fraudulently, and 17% of the complaint cases regarded credit card fraud. Imposer scams moved to the third place of consumer complaints.
In 2014, approximately 31.8 million Americans had their credit cards breached. Undoubtedly, there has been considerable advancement in technology. For example, EMV chips have been designed to protect their consumers from fraud. But with the substantial increase in credit card fraud, we 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 States of America. The high level of credit and debit card fraud in the US has had a tremendous impact on other countries. The United States scored the highest points (35%) among the total fraud-related losses to the UK-issued cards in 2015.
According to a report released by Identity Theft Resource Center, the number of U.S. data breaches totaled 781 in 2015. The years saw an 8.4% hump in the hacking incidents than 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 for-profit, the current stats shift the motive. The criminals intend to obtain sensitive and private data to compel behavior changes in the individuals or groups whose personal information has been compromised.
Federal Trade Commission started documenting medical identity theft cases starting in 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. In most cases, the victims incur medical care charges 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 are equally at risk of identity theft. According to the Federal Trade Commission, every one in five identity theft complaints has been received from young adults in the age group of 20-19. College students become an easy target for 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 vulnerability points, including the unsecured college networks and extensive use of public Wi-Fi. Apart from that, students might use their SSN for identification processes, which makes their personal information easily accessible.
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 the identity theft victims experienced a direct financial loss of $7,761 on average. This is the average amount criminals obtained after misusing a victim’s account or personal information. Victims also lose a considerable amount of recovering from identity theft through legal fees, insurance consulting services, etc. Victims also face non-monetary costs, including emotional distress, time, and harassment from creditors.
Are you still wondering what the odds of you becoming a victim of identity theft are? 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? From 2005 to 2010, 64.1% of the cases were 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.
It is estimated that roughly 85% of U.S. residents actively took steps to prevent being a victim of identity theft. People took multiple measures to prevent identity theft, including shredding documents that contained personal information, changing passwords affiliated with financial accounts, and keeping tabs on credit reports.
Among all reported identity theft cases during recent years, 45% of the victims found out about the crime after their financial institution notified them of suspicious activities. Also, most 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 of identity theft and take all the necessary precautions to avoid becoming a victim. Knowledge is power when it comes to fighting identity theft.