Information management is critically important to all of us - as employees and consumers. For that reason, the Identity Theft Resource Center has been tracking security breaches since 2005, looking for patterns, new trends and any information that may better help us to educate consumers and businesses on the need for understanding the value of protecting personal identifying information.
Looking back at the types of information compromised during 2015, the Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC) saw an astronomical rise in the number of Social Security numbers (SSNs) exposed as a result of many high profile breaches. According to the ITRC’s 2015 Breach Report, there were more than 165 million SSN’s exposed, more than 10 times the number compromised in 2014. What makes this statistic even more staggering is the fact that there were two fewer data breaches in 2015 than were reported in 2014. Javelin Strategy & Research’s 2016 Identity Fraud: Fraud Hits an Inflection Point1, revealed that one in five data breach victims suffered fraud in 2015, rising notably from one in seven in 2014...
With this tremendous influx of SSNs on the black market, which are now quite likely in the hands of identity thieves, it may come as no surprise that new account fraud (NAF) is on the rise in the U.S.
Identity theft continues to be the highest reported consumer crime to the FTC, and has been for fifteen consecutive years. This demonstrates not only the seriousness of the crime itself, but also the need for better awareness and education aimed at consumer protection.
ITRC's research whitepaper, Identity Theft: #1 FTC Consumer Complaint 15 Consecutive Years, shows that while the numbers for 2014 are alarming, they do not come as a surprise to those active in the field.
“Communication aimed at a cross section of populations and the development of innovative programs and partnerships is more than just a good idea, it is absolutely necessary if we are to take this fight against identity theft and the related issues to a new level,” said Eva Velasquez, President/CEO of the Identity Theft Resource Center.
ITRC would like to thank Terrell McSweeny, FTC Commissioner, and expert panelists John Breyault, Andy Bucholz, Lisa Schifferle, and Shawn Tiller for participating in the discussion of ITRC's research whitepaper, Identity Theft: #1 FTC Consumer Complaint 15 Consecutive Years. ITRC would also like to thank Google for supporting the whitepaper. The findings are yet another reminder that whether young or old, everyone is at risk of becoming a victim of identity theft.
To read the whitepaper, click here: Identity Theft: #1 Consumer Complaint 15 Consecutive Years
“It’s truly made me feel like nothing is safe” - ITRC Aftermath Respondent
Identity theft creates barriers to success that affect more than just the victim’s finances or the ability to obtain loans or credit. This crime can lead to the inability to obtain housing, employment, or even medical services including prescriptions needed to manage an existing or new health condition. When you combine this with the emotional and behavioral repercussions, one realizes how devastating this crime continues to be.
The ITRC’s Aftermath studies have always been recognized for their focus on addressing the impact of identity theft on its victims. The Aftermath 2016 report is the latest in this series of studies, which began in 2003.
For the last fourteen years, identity theft has been the number one reported complaint to the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) according to their annual report titled the Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book. Javelin Strategy & Research has produced yearly studies, titled Identity Fraud Report, showing that the number of identity fraud victims increased from 10.2 million Americans in 2010 to 13.1 million in 2013.
The Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC) recently conducted a brief Facebook Social Media Survey to measure interaction trends between internet users and Facebook. The ITRC conducted this survey in order to better help victims with Facebook-related identity theft concerns and issues and received 446 responses.
Today, in light of the vast media attention being given to a large retail breach, identity theft is on the mind of many Americans. Following the recent release of a Bureau of Justice’s report Victims of Identity Theft, 2012, the Identity Theft Resource Center today released a white paper on The Paradox of Declining Property Crime Despite Increasing Identity Theft Crime. This paper, which seeks to further examine the identity theft statistics reflected in the report, was sponsored by Lifelock, Inc.
According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics’ Victims of Identity Theft, 2012, 7% of all Americans 16 or older have experienced one or more incidents of identity theft with total direct and indirect losses totaling $24.7 billion. Other highlights noted in the BJS study include:
• Only 9.3% of the identity theft victims reported the incident to the police. There were a wide variety of reasons why victims did not report the crime to the police. Of the remaining 90%, nearly 60% of the victims indicated they handled it a different way, while 35.4% failed to report the crime because they either did not think the police could help, did not know they could report the incident, or did not know what agency was responsible for identity theft crimes.
• Overall, age and gender did not seem to have a significant impact on your chances of becoming a victim. However, households with incomes over $75,000 (highest bracket) had a higher prevalence of identity theft than other income brackets. This should not be taken as a reason for those in the lower income brackets to ignore the dangers of identity theft. There were still nearly 1.9 million victims with confirmed household incomes of less than $24,999 annually. This statistic alone should debunk the myth that identity thieves will not steal your identity if you don’t have good credit or a high income.
• Approximately 45% of victims discovered their identity theft after being alerted by a financial institution of suspicious activity on their account. Financial institutions are continuing to collaborate and create new innovative technologies to help detect and prevent identity theft. This is very encouraging because financial institutions and consumers are on the same side in this war and both the institutions and consumers must work together to cut down on the rate of identity theft. Consumers are doing their part as well, with the second most common way victims discovered their identity theft issue was by noticing fraudulent charges on their own accounts. Nearly 65% of all incidents of identity theft were discovered as a direct result of consumers and financial institutions remaining vigilant in monitoring for any sign of the crime.
• 16.6 million victims of identity theft compared to 8.9 million victims of property crime.
“The statistics in the BJS report are in direct contrast to other crime rate data. Reports from the FBI , which exclude identity theft rates, make the argument that property crime in the U.S. has been decreasing precipitously across the board, all while identity theft rates soar,” said Eva Velasquez, ITRC President/CEO. “The BJS statistics truly demonstrate that we do not have less crime in the United States, rather there has been a shift in the types of crime that are being committed.”
LifeLock, CEO Todd Davis said, "Today’s breach news reminds us that there is a lot of work needed to help educate consumers about the risks of identity theft. As the Bureau of Justice Statistics data reflects, identity theft incidents continue to increase and severely impact the lives of individuals." Davis continued, “LifeLock commends the Identity Theft Resource Center for its strong focus on helping consumers understand how to protect their personal information so that they can take action to help protect against identity theft."
This white paper reviews the recently released BJS statics as well as sheds light on the reasons why these statistics do not correlate with the FBI crime rate statistics in the Crime in the United States report. The paper raises questions about the effectiveness of existing nationwide education campaigns developed to heighten awareness on identifying types of identity theft, detecting, reporting, and measuring the crime, as well as mitigating a case. In addition, the paper concludes that more needs to be done to look at what is and isn’t working in the area of education surrounding identity theft and related issues, andconsumers need more tools to detect and mitigate an identity theft case.
“The ITRC is pleased to be working with LifeLock on this important educational project which seeks to greater inform all stakeholders involved in addressing identity theft and related issues,” said Velasquez. “Only by working together with other stakeholders in this space can we hope to achieve some measurable degree of success dealing with the growth of identity theft.”
About the ITRC
The Identity Theft Resource Center® (ITRC) is a nationally recognized non-profit organization established to support victims of identity theft in resolving their cases, and to broaden public education and awareness in the understanding of identity theft. Visit www.idtheftcenter.org. Victims may contact the ITRC at 888-400-5530.
LifeLock, Inc. (NYSE: LOCK) is a leading provider of proactive identity theft protection services for consumers and identity risk and credit worthiness assessment services for enterprises. Leveraging unique data, science and patented technology from ID Analytics, Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary, LifeLock gains a comprehensive perspective into identity risk to best protect consumers. As part of its commitment to fighting identity theft, LifeLock regularly works with law enforcement officials to better understand identity theft threats and trends.