Understanding identity theft is not a simple or easy process. The term applies to just about any situation in which a person uses your personal information, such as your name, Social Security Number, or other details in any way. Even though this is a growing type of crime, and one that is made far easier due to the digital world we live in, many people have no real idea of just how far-reaching and worrisome it is. Take a look at some identity theft facts and statistics to see just how much risk you are under today.

A 2018 Report Sheds Light on Current Risks

A recent report from the Javelin Strategy & Research provides some key information on the severity of identity theft right now. The report to look at for more information is called the Fraud Enters a New Era of Complexity report, and it shows us some interesting facts:

  • In 2017, we learn that 16.7 million people faced ID theft. That is considered a record high number of people when compared to data from previous years.
  • That accounted for $16.8 billion in stolen funds as a result of identity theft in 2017.
  • About 30 percent of all consumers in the U.S. were alerted to some type of data breach or security risk in 2017. That is a steep increase of about 12 percent from the previous year.
  • Account takeovers, one of the highest risk thefts, grew in 2017 to account for $5.1 billion in losses.

This report provides a clear idea of the scope of risk. With nearly a third of consumers in the country exposed to risk, this isn’t a threat anyone can overlook.

FTC Data Offers More Insight

The FTC is one of the leading agencies working to protect consumers from identity theft. They offer a lot of information, including the Consumer Sentinel Network’s 2019 report. This agency works to track identity theft complains and instances of consumer fraud occurring in the U.S. Specifically, it looks at those instances of fraud and ID theft that have been reported to local government agencies, such as federal, state, or local law enforcement.

The report from this year provides more insight into what’s really happening. Keep in mind, these are reports of loss. That means the consumer learned about them and could file a report with law enforcement. It does not account for the millions of people without knowledge of their exposure.

  • In 2018, there were 3 million reports of identity theft or some type of consumer fraud reported to government agencies.
  • Of them, 1.4 were fraud-related. In these, 25 percent of the victims of the crimes reported that they lost money as a result of the fraud. Imposter scams were the most common form of fraud reported.
  • That year, consumers reported to government agencies losses totaling $1.48 billion related specifically to fraud claims. From the previous year, that is a $406 million increase in reports.
  • The report found 15 percent of all claims were related to identity theft in some way. The number of claims rose 19.8 percent in 2018 over the previous year.

The report also gives us more information on the types of identity theft occurring in more detail. According to the same report, the following shows who types of theft occurred:

  • 40.5 percent of claims were for credit card fraud through the opening of new accounts. It found that 130,928 people reported this type of loss.
  • 27.1 percent reported miscellaneous forms of identity theft, accounting for 87,765.
  • Tax fraud accounted for 12 percent.
  • Mobile phone new accounts accounted for 10.3 percent.
  • Existing credit card fraud accounted for 10 percent.

Experian Insight into Data Breaches

One of the most common forms of identity theft is a data breach. This indicates that someone has gained access to your personal information by accessing data stored on a computer, in the cloud, or on the internet. Sometimes, it occurs when a retailer's or other business files are accessed. Experian provides some interesting information from the Identity Theft Resource Center to consider.

  • 1,579 data breaches occurred in 2018. That means that accounts were accessed that many times across all sources. This exposed 179 million records to potential theft.
  • This accounts for a 44 percent increase in the number of data breaches occurring. It also indicates a rise of 389 percent in the number of records exposed.

Data exposures range widely in terms of what’s actually lost. In 2017, 158 million Social Security Numbers were exposed. That is a figure that is 8 times larger than in the previous year.

Who Is At Risk Matters, Too

Though we often think that these reports of theft happen to just certain groups, all people in the country are at risk. In fact, child identity theft is a growing problem. The Consumer Sentinel Network for March of 2018 provides us with some insight into this risk. It found:

  • 13,852 children under the age of 19 had filed complaints related to identity theft in 2017.
  • That is 3.89 percent of all identity thefts reported in 2017 (remember, this only includes those instances that people learned about and reported to law enforcement).

Experian also tracks identity theft reports related to those under the age of 18. It states that it receives between 25,000 and 30,000 claims of fraud every year. Of those, about 17 percent are claims made against children’s credit reports. The agency expects about 25 percent of kids to have some type of identity theft or instance of fraud occur to them by the time they reach the age of 18.

Another at-risk age group is seniors. The FTC reports that, in 2017, 35 percent of all complaints of fraud it received, and 18.9 percent of all identity theft complaints were related specifically to senior. Seniors are those who are over the age of 60. This often occurs due to seniors trusting the wrong individuals.

These facts and statistics on identity theft and fraud make it clear everyone is at risk. Are you taking enough action to protect yourself?