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IN THE SPOTLIGHT

Identity Theft - Facts and Figures

This page provides information and data on identity theft:

The Federal Trade Commission's Consumer Sentinel Network (CSN) collects information about consumer fraud and identity theft from the FTC and numerous other organizations, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Secret Service, Attorney Generals Offices, and various State and local law enforcement agencies. According to FTC's, Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book for January - December 2013 (2014), the CSN received over 2 million consumer complaints in 2013. Findings from an analysis of those complaints include:

  • Of the complaints received in 2013, identity theft complaints accounted for 14% of all complaints.
  • Government documents/benefits fraud (34%) was the most common form of reported identity theft, followed by credit card fraud (17%), phone or utilities fraud (14%), and bank fraud (8%). Other significant categories of identity theft reported by victims were employment-related fraud (6%) and loan fraud (4%).
  • Forty-one percent of identity theft complainants reported whether they contacted law enforcement. Of those victims, 74% notified a police department and 61% indicated a report was taken.

In 2004, questions were added to the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) to provide ongoing estimates of identity theft victimization. For the purposes of the survey, identity theft was defined to include the following three behaviors:

  • unauthorized use or attempted use of existing credit cards
  • unauthorized use or attempted use of other existing accounts such as checking accounts
  • misuse of personal information to obtain new accounts or loans, or to commit other crimes.

The Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) bulletin, Victims of Identity Theft, 2012 (December 2013), presents findings on the prevalence and nature of identity theft from the 2012 Identity Theft Supplement to the NCVS. It details the number and percentage of persons age 16 or older who reported at least one incident of identity theft over the past year. Highlights include:

  • About 7% of persons age 16 or older were victims of identity theft in 2012.
  • The majority of identity theft incidents (85%) involved the fraudulent use of existing account information, such as credit card or bank account information.
  • Victims who had personal information used to open a new account or for other fraudulent purposes were more likely than victims of existing account fraud to experience financial, credit, and relationship problems and severe emotional distress.
  • About 14% of identity theft victims experienced out-of-pocket losses of $1 or more. Of these victims, about half suffered losses of less than $100.„„
  • Over half of identity theft victims who were able to resolve any associated problems did so in a day or less; among victims who had personal information used for fraudulent purposes, 29% spent a month or more resolving problems.

The Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) report, Identity Theft Reported by Households, 2005-2010 (2011), provides statistical information based on experiences of all household members age 12 or older as reported by the head of household. Highlights from Identity Theft Reported by Households, 2005-2010 include the following:

  • In 2010, 7.0% of households in the United States, or about 8.6 million households, had at least one member age 12 or older who experienced one or more types of identity theft victimization.
  • Among households in which at least one member experienced one or more types of identity theft, 64.1% experienced the misuse or attempted misuse of an existing credit card account in 2010.
  • From 2005 to 2010, the percentage of all households with one or more type of identity theft that suffered no direct financial loss increased from 18.5% to 23.7%.