20 Identity Theft Statistics That Will Shock You in 2019

by Christo Petrov

Identity Theft is a rapidly expanding issue in the United States and the rest of the world. We have compiled a list of identity theft statistics in an attempt to understand this growing problem. Many of the figures listed below will undoubtedly be alarming and discouraging to any security-minded individual.

Startling Identity Theft Statistics

  • Nearly 60 million Americans were affected by identity theft in 2017 alone
  • Account takeovers tallied up over $2 billion in losses in 2017
  • About 10% of all Americans reported that they had been victims of identity theft
  • The average monetary cost of identity fraud is $263 per person affected
  • 33% of adults admit to sharing their login credentials with others
  • A reported $96 million was lost to credit card fraud in 2016
  • Child identity theft cost families over $540 million in losses in 2017
  • The yearly total cost of identity theft is above $16 billion

The first step in resolving any issue is understanding, so we hope that this list of identity theft facts and statistics will help give all readers a greater understanding of the issue and the role it is currently playing in the world.

General Stats

Welcome to the scary world of identity theft. Here are the facts.

1. In the United States, someone falls victim to identity theft every two seconds.

(Source: Javelin Strategy&Research)

In less time than it will take to unlock your phone, take a deep breath, or open a door – an identity thief will strike. As far as identity theft trends go, this is one of the easiest to grasp in real-world terms.

2. Total fraud victims hit a record high in 2016, with over 15.4 million victims for the annum.

(Source: Javelin Javelin Strategy&Research)

Preliminary data for 2017 and 2018 shows a small decline in how many Americans are victims of identity theft each year. Many of the statistics and studies are still being curated and completed, so our most accurate statistics come mainly from the 2016 calendar year.

3. An estimated 26 million Americans reported they had been victims of identity theft in 2016.

(Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics)

It is important to note the distinction between this stat and the one that comes before it. Not all victims of identity theft become victims of fraud.

Their risk of fraud is much higher, but people in that situation have ways to protect themselves – by reporting the identity theft. If there is any doubt about the security of your identity, it is a matter of safety for you to report it. Cybercrime identity theft cases are no joke and it pays off to set aside time to prevent or minimize the extent of any issue.

4. About 10% of all Americans over the age of 16 reported that they had been victims of identity theft.

(Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics)

This is just another visualization of the stat above it. The number is expected to be even greater given the unknown amount of unreported victims of identity theft.

There is likely a large number of people who have had their identity compromised and are not aware of the breach yet. This makes it more difficult to know exactly how many people are affected by identity theft.

Reports generally come out when someone identifies the breach either through attempted or already performed fraud.

5. 61% of identity theft complaints come from those between the ages of 30 and 59.

(Source: Federal Trade Commission)

There is a variety of reasons to explain why this age range has become a primary target for identity thieves. Proper security practices have to be learned and re-learned consistently to ensure proper safety.

I can’t imagine it a stretch to say that this age range consists of people that are less likely to actively re-learn the best internet and data security principles or be aware of internet identity theft statistics.

Consumer Stats

If you ever did anything online, chances are you exposed your credentials. And that’s how identity theft happens.

6. 87% of consumers have left their personal information exposed while accessing email, bank accounts or other financial information.

(Source: Symantec)

Data privacy, specifically over unsecured networks, is a tremendous issue. This can be mitigated by using a VPN, but many have not yet realized the value VPNs offer by way of privacy and protection. Most people don’t understand the risks of accessing sensitive information over public Wi-Fi networks. Online identity theft statistics unforgivingly indicate this to be a major issue.

7. 33% of adults admit to sharing their login credentials with others.

(Source: Experian)

Who isn’t guilty of sharing login credentials? Personally, I don’t have a clue which of my friends are still leeching my Netflix. As innocuous as this may seem, it can create much larger issues.

The credentials can get into the wrong hands. Being that careless with personal data is a significant contributor to the rising identity theft rate. Many people recycle passwords because they don’t want to forget them.

If you’re in that majority, stealing your Netflix password might mean having access to a variety of other accounts you may have.

8. 82% of consumers fail to enroll in credit monitoring or identity theft protection services.

(Source: Experian)

The best way to fix any problem is to stop it from happening in the first place. Easier said than done. Ideally, everyone should take preventative measures to lessen or remove the risk of identity theft. Credit monitoring and identity theft protection services are a great place to start. If you need more motivation, just have a look at the recent identity theft cases.

9. 25% of consumers reported that they had shared their payment information or bank PIN number.

(Source: Experian)

I’m sure many of these occurrences came with the justification of, “Oh, what’s the harm?”. Of course, this stat doesn’t suggest that a fourth of consumers have had their identity stolen because of this.

It only means they’ve made themselves needlessly vulnerable against that kind of threat. There may be no harm in doing this, but it is irresponsible and completely avoidable.

If these identity theft stats haven’t provided enough of a reason for caution, I can’t imagine what would.

10. 75% of consumers do not use a VPN to protect their WiFi connection.

(Source: Symantec)

Despite the proven and immediate benefits, an overwhelming amount of consumers are unaware of how a VPN can protect them. A good VPN will protect all data sent to and from your computer. This could even mitigate the need for identity theft software or other extraneous products.

Identity Theft Cost Statistics

Identity theft is a multi-billion problem. It can cost a lifetime of savings for certain users.

11. A reported $96 million was lost to credit card fraud in 2016.

(Source: Federal Trade Commission)

The cost of identity theft actually has several aspects. Victims say that the stress caused far outweighs the monetary setback. Restoring complete control of your identity is not an easy feat by any stretch. With that said, identity thieves are not deterred by the current attempts to stop them. Preliminary reports on statistics on identity theft expect the number to be even higher for 2017 and 2018.

12. Account takeovers tallied up over $2 billion in losses in 2017.

(Source: Javelin Strategy&Research)

Account takeover fraud is simply using another person’s account to make purchases or send funds to a thief’s wallet. This is a popular strategy as it isn’t always immediately identified.

If the thief has a good strategy, they could make multiple purchases or transfers without raising any flags. Identity theft predictions have this number even higher for 2018.

13. Victims of identity theft will, on average, spend over 330 hours and $1,000 attempting to clear their name.

(Source: Identity Hawk)

The shocking aspect here isn’t the monetary value, but the time spent solving the issue. Clearing one’s name is a stressful process that can take quite a while to deal with fully. Hopefully, these identity theft numbers will wake you up to the necessity of taking measures to protect yourself.

14. Child identity theft cost families over $540 million in losses in 2017.

(Source: Identity Force)

A favorite target of identity thieves is children, mainly because they don’t have any established financial stature. On one hand, the thief can’t take anything from the child, except their name.

On the other, that’s sometimes all they need. Thieves see this as a blank slate or canvas upon which they can perform their criminal art.

15. CNP Fraud, or “Card-Not-Present” Fraud, accounted for over $242 million in losses in 2016.

(Source: Australian Payment Network)

Yet another staggering number in our list of identity theft stats that illustrates the compounding effect of poor security. This is a particularly difficult form of fraud to combat as it happens when credit card data gets processed by a thief without ever touching the physical card.

Biggest Identity Theft Stats

The numbers may surprise you.

16. Nearly 60 million Americans were affected by identity theft in 2017 alone.

(Source: Panda Security)

This is not a pleasant topic to talk about, especially in person. How common is identity theft among the people we know?

Well, this stat basically says a little under one-sixth of Americans were affected by identity theft in 2017. You wouldn’t have to look very far to find a friend or colleague affected. Identity theft statistics worldwide paint a similar picture.

17. The yearly total cost of identity theft is above $16 billion.

(Source: Insurance Information Institute)

Identity theft is a criminal industry within itself. It wouldn’t be surprising to see an enterprising young individual from Palo Alto see this figure and begin to market it as the “next big industry”.

Jokes aside, this criminal activity creates a real burden on our society and our economy. Real, tangible steps need to be taken to lessen the impact it will have in the future.

18. The record cost for total losses due to identity theft in a year was $24.7 billion in 2012.

(Source: Yahoo! Finance)

While identity thefts per year have risen progressively since 2012, criminals haven’t been able to monetize their stolen goods as effectively. While progress hasn’t been as immediate as we would like, measures have been taken to minimize the monetary effect that these incidents cause.

19. Resolution for account takeover fraud consumed over 20.7 million hours in 2016.

(Source: Javelin Strategy&Research)

While the average monetary cost was on average only $263 per person affected, the time it took to resolve the issue was astronomical. Following the old adage that “time is money”, we can conclude the actual cost per person affected was even higher. We might miss this if we took identity theft statistics at face value.

20. Synthetic Identity Fraud cost banks $6 billion in 2016.

(Source: Panda Security)

Synthetic identity theft is a clever form of fraud, in which a criminal combine real (read: stolen) and fake information in order to create accounts and make purchases.

This trend is growing rapidly and creating larger issues for the safety of children’s identity. When the effort is well-coordinated, it is particularly difficult to track down the perpetrator.

Conclusion

Identity theft statistics show the issue will be increasingly important as time goes on. Understanding the threat and what measures you can take for protection is invaluable, especially in high tech society we live in. I hope this has given you a broader understanding of the topic and how it is affecting the world.

References:

  1. Javelin Strategy&Research
  2. Javelin Strategy&Research
  3. Bureau of Justice Statistics
  4. Bureau of Justice Statistics
  5. Federal Trade Commission
  6. Symantec
  7. Experian
  8. Experian
  9. Experian
  10. Symantec
  11. Federal Trade Commission
  12. Javelin Strategy&Research
  13. Identity Hawk
  14. Identity Force
  15. Australian Payment Network
  16. Panda Security
  17. Insurance Information Institute
  18. Yahoo! Finance
  19. Javelin Security&Research
  20. Panda Security

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