Identity theft facts and statistics 2019-2021

*This list is regularly updated with the latest identity theft statistics for 2019 – 2021 (plus a few earlier stats thrown in). To date, we have compiled over 30 identity theft facts, figures and trends from a wide range of sources and covering a number of different countries.

As the world continues its relentless march toward all things digital, the reams of data we’re uploading to the web are increasingly exposed. Each individual consumer’s personal information now resides on hundreds, if not thousands of servers across the globe. With that fact comes a somewhat obvious result: an increase in identity theft.

Data theft is big business, although there was some good news in 2019. The number of identity fraud incidents fell for the second year in a row, from 6.6% of consumers in 2016 to 5.7% in 2018, then down to 5.1% in 2019.

Additionally, Javelin Strategy found that children are increasingly the victims of identity fraud. While children have long been a target for Social Security Number misuse and credit card fraud, it appears the impact is growing. The security firm found that over 1 million children were ID theft victims in 2017.

Identity theft statistics have taken center stage among the many stats and facts encompassing the entire realm of cybercrime. While ransomware gains more attention, identity theft remains much easier to pull off and monetize. Social security numbers, credit card numbers, and other personal identity factors can be stolen and sold on the dark web, or used by criminals for quick and easy profit gain.

The following identity theft statistics are categorized to help get a better feel for how and why this threat continues to be a problem for consumers, businesses, and governments worldwide.

Related: Cyber security statistics

1. There were over 12,000 reported data breaches in the US between 2008 and June 2020, which help contribute to identity fraud

Alongside the 12,098 reported data breaches in the US between 2008 and June 2020, there were over 11 billion records stolen during that time frame. The numbers reveal that contrary to efforts to stem the tide of data theft, thieves are learning new ways to bypass protections. Consumers now face an increased risk of data theft.

2. Number of fraud incidents down from 2019

The total number of new fraud incidents fell between 2019 and 2020. Just 5.1% of consumers reported being victims of fraud, compared to 5.7% of consumers reporting as such in 2018. There were 13 million fraud incidents in 2019, compared to 14.4 million in 2018.

3. Fraud losses up 13% between 2019 and 2020

Even as the overall number of fraud incidents fell between 2018 and 2019, the total amount of money lost to identity fraud was on the rise. Fraud losses in 2019 hit $16.9 billion last year.

4. Consumers hit with $3.5 billion in losses due to fraud

Cybercriminals continued hitting consumers hard in 2019, resulting in $3.5 billion in losses related to fraud recovery.

5. Account takeovers up 72 percent

Account takeovers can occur when a criminal gains access to someone’s accounts holding personal information. Account takeovers were up 72 percent in 2019 over the previous year.

6. 40% of account takeovers happened in just one day

Javelin Research found that fraudsters are fast in their efforts to take over accounts. The company’s 2020 research on identity fraud reports that 40% of takeovers happen within 24 hours of a criminal’s access to a victim’s account.

7. The overall decline in fraud events is likely due to EMV chip credit cards

The decreasing number of fraud events is highly evident of the impact of EMV chip-based credit cards, which cannot be copied by card skimmers. EMV chip adoption in the US was slow, but by 2020, around 67% of merchants had POS systems in place to accept the chips (up from 59% in 2018), while every major card issuer had already switched to delivering cards with EMV chips.

Prior to EMV chip cards, credit card fraud was the single-largest source of identity fraud losses. However, counterfeit card fraud fell 75% after EMV card rollouts.

8. Stolen credit card data is often sold on dark web marketplaces for as little as $0.50 per card

Although the cost of losing credit card information can be extensive, those selling that data on the dark web often do so at incredibly low prices. Symantec found single credit cards priced as low as $0.50, and some as high as $20 each. Cards with full details, including CCV numbers, were more commonly twice as expensive, and often run between $1 and $45 per card.

Data from skimmed magnetic is often the most expensive card data on the dark web. The asking price for those can range from $5 to $60 or more.

9. Most people in the US know someone an ID theft victim

 Around 10% of Americans have been a victim of identity fraud, 21% of whom have been victimized more than once. Those numbers indicate that if you live in the US, you have likely been a victim of ID theft or known someone who has (whether they’ve admitted to it or not). 

10. UK identity theft reaching “epidemic levels”

In 2017, Cifas announced that identity fraud in the UK is reaching “epidemic levels” with fraud incidents occurring at a rate of 500 per day. Unfortunately, things only got worse in 2020, with an increase of a third. Notably, 42% of reported incidents were commited with the goal of obtaining a credit card. 

10. Account takeovers saw a huge increased between 2018 and 2019

Account takeovers have been on the rise for a while but spiked 70% in 2019, bringing losses associated with account takeovers to a staggering $6.8 billion USD, up from $5.1 billion the previous year.

11. An average of 4,800 websites are compromised with formjacking code each month

A comparatively new type of cyber attack, formjacking consists of hackers injecting malicious Javascript code that scrapes personal information submitted onto a website via website forms. Once a user submits that information, the malicious code collects and transfers that data to another server.

In its 2019 Internet Security Threat Report, Symantec noted that it detected and blocked 3.7 million formjacking attempts in 2018. This technique seems to be working for hackers, though, since in Q1 2020, Symantec found 7,836 compromised websites, up from 7,663 the previous quarter.

12. In 2018, mobile account takeovers increased dramatically

Javelin Strategy found that there were 679,000 mobile account takeovers, versus 380,000 in 2017.

13. Millennials accounted for 33% of US identity fraud reports

According to the FTC, there were over 1.6 million fraud reports in 2019. 33% of these were from people between the ages of 20 and 29, while just 13% were from people over 70 years old. However, it recently launched an online platform for reporting fraud, which may see these numbers increase more than usual, given the ease of which users can file a report.

Equifax also confirmed that Millennials were prime targets for fraudsters. According to Equifax Canada, nearly half of all suspected fraud applications are for those between the ages of 18 and 34.

14. Identity scams were the most commonly reported scam in the US in 2019, followed closely by imposter scams

The 2019 FTC Consumer Sentinel Data Book reveals that identity fraud accounted for the largest share of fraud reports to the FTC, accounting for 20.33% of all reported scams last year. Imposter scams were a close second, with 20.31% of all scam reports fitting into one of the five types of imposter subcategories the FTC monitors.

The FTC also reports a 46% year-over-year increase in identity thefts from 2018 to 2019. There were over 650,000 reported ID theft incidents in 2019, versus 444,000+ in 2018.

15. Social media users are a high-risk group for ID theft

Those who use social media are among the most likely to experience fraud. Javelin Strategy found that individuals who have an active social media presence had a 30 percent higher risk of being a fraud victim than those who weren’t active.

People who use Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat were particularly vulnerable. Users on these sites have a 46 percent higher risk of account takeovers and fraud than those not active on any social media networks.

16. Millennials are most likely to be identity theft victims

FTC data shows those aged 30-39 are most likely to be identity theft victims. That age group, which comprises some (but not all) Millennials, reported over 170,000 instances of ID theft in 2019. Individuals who fall within Gen X, aged 40-49, were the second most likely to have reported ID thefts, with over 120,000 incidents.

ID theft by age
Source: FTC

17. Children are often victims of identity fraud

According to the Identity Theft Resource Center, 1.3 million children’s records are stolen every year. Foster children have an even greater risk as a percentage of all children. 

Self-reported data to the FTC indicates that over 14,000 identity theft victims were under the age of 19 in 2019. These are similar numbers to what was reported in previous years.

18. Over 1 in 10 ID theft victims don’t want police reports

FTC data from 2016 shows a surprising 11% of those who reported identity theft to law enforcement did not want a police report taken. 

19. Only 14% of consumers use VPNs to protect their identity

Despite the verified increase in data protection it provides, 86 percent of consumers fail to use a VPN to protect their WiFi connections. 

20. Credit card fraud leading type of identity theft

The 2019 Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book reveals there were 271,823 reports of credit card fraud that year. That makes credit card fraud the top reported type of ID fraud in 2019. “Other identity theft” accounted for over 215,000 reports, while there were 104,699 loan or lease fraud reports.

21. 87% of consumers have left personal information exposed online

Symantec found that 87 percent of consumers have left their personal information exposed while accessing emails, bank accounts or financial information, another issue that could be mitigated through the use of a VPN.

The lack of personal WiFi protections appears to coincide with the fact that 60% of consumers feel as though their personal information is safe when using public WiFi.

22. Identify theft now accounts for over 20% of all FTC CSN reports

Although the total number of reports made to the Consumer Sentinel Network didn’t rise remarkably between 2017 and 2019, ID theft did rise as a percentage of total reports. In 2019, ID theft had risen to 20.33% of the total number of reports, or over 650,000. Imposter scams were a close second at 20.23% of all reports

23. Most small businesses store private information that could be exposed

According to a CSID survey, in 2016, 52% of small businesses didn’t invest in cyber risk mitigation, believing that they didn’t store any private information. However, 68% at a minimum stored email addresses, which is one potential entry vector for hackers. CSID also found that 31% of surveyed small businesses did not taking any active measures to mitigate cyber risks such as data breaches and hacking.

Complicating the matter is money and human resources. In 2019, nearly 77% of businesses claim they didn’t have the personnel to properly secure their records and systems, a 2% increase from 2018. Around 55% indicate they lack the budget to invest in better protection.

24. Most fraud losses are less than $100, but fraud losses are growing

The FTC reports that most reported fraud losses were under $100. In 2019, over 107,000 reports were for losses of $100 or less. In 2017, over 40,000 reports indicated loss amounts in that rage.

An Experian survey discovered that half of all American adults believe that identity thieves are not interested in people with poor credit. Consequently, people with poor credit are still at risk for fraud and fraud losses. 

25. Many fraud victims don’t get reimbursed for their losses

An increasing number of fraud victims are not getting reimbursed. Javelin found 23 percent of fraud victims did not get their money back in 2018, which is 3 times more than in 2016.

26. Poor shopping habits leave Americans exposed to ID theft

Experian found 43% of identity theft victims in the U.S. admitted the incident happened after shopping online during the holidays. Despite this, only 58% said they wouldn’t use public wifi networks for shopping in the future.

27. Account sharing habits could lead to ID theft

Despite the risks involved, a survey found 79% of Americans admit to sharing passwords. Only 13% of survey respondents were worried about identity fraud, despite the risk. Given 65% of surveyed adults admit to reusing passwords across sites, many adults could be more vulnerable to ID theft than they realize. 

28. Card-related fraud is down again in Australia

The Australia Payments Network reports that all while spending on payment cards is up, card fraud has fallen for a second year. Its FY 2020 report indicates counterfeit/skimming fraud fell by 14.2%, lost and stolen card fraud fell by 37%, and card-not-present fraud (CNP) fell by 7.28%. 

29. Identity theft has lasting emotional impacts

In its 2018 study The Aftermath®: The Non-Economic Impacts of Identity Theft, the Identity Theft Resource Center examined the emotional impacts that follow from identity theft victimhood. The study found 77.3% of victims report increased stress levels and 54.5% experienced more fatigue and decreased energy.

ID theft victimhood can also erode personal relationships. Over 45% of victims felt they could not trust family members after experiencing ID theft. A further 55% noted newly-developed trust issues with friends.

30. New account fraud losses exceed $3.4 billion

New Account Fraud (NAF) losses increased in 2018, to $3.4 billion. NAF fraud accounted for $3 billion in losses in 2017. According to the FTC, new account fraud was also up 88% between 2018 and 2019.

31. Federal student loan fraud identity theft largest increase in 2019

Although there were just over 14,600 reports related to it, FTC Consumer Sentinel Report data shows identity theft based on fraudulent applications for federal student loans rose 188% between 2018 and 2019.

Identity theft statistics reveal the problem is not going away

Identity theft is increasingly a 21st-century problem. As more data moves off of physical paper and onto Internet-connected servers, the chances of that data getting stolen increases as well. While “malicious outsiders” remain active in stealing data (and by extension, loss of credit card numbers and Social Security Numbers), consumers share a good part of the blame for their lost data. Nevertheless, there are some positives that have emerged in response.

Thankfully, Consumers are getting slightly better at detecting fraud attempts. Javelin Strategy and Research found that online shoppers tended to be quick at identifying fraud attempts. Surprisingly, 78 percent of fraud victims were able to detect fraud within a week’s time.

Still, identity theft prevention appears to be on the rise despite savvier consumers. Data breaches show no signs of decreasing. And unfortunately, consumers still appear to be less than proactive when it comes to securing their private information.

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