2019 has come and gone and it is time to jump into the future and look at the 2020 trends for identity theft.

Looking Back at Our 2019 Predictions

First, when we look back at our 2019 predictions, there is one particular prediction that came true. In 2019 we predicted that other states would follow California’s lead and pass their own privacy legislation. New York proposed the New York Privacy Act and, in some ways, it was more potent than California’s law. The exemptions for non-profits and small businesses were gone and the private right of action, the ability for individuals to some companies directly, were included. While it is unknown what the final form or outcome of New York’s legislation will be, it is one of the reasons we think the privacy conversation has finally reached its tipping point.

The Long Road to Privacy

The theme of 2019 was data and 2020’s will end up being privacy. People care about privacy. If you ask anyone on the street if they care about privacy, most will tell you they do. However, when they are presented with real-world scenarios, they usually do not adopt behaviors that would be considered privacy-centric. According to Pew Research, 80 percent of social media users are concerned about their privacy. The study goes on to shed light on why our feelings are so complicated when it comes to privacy. With that being said, these are social media users. They continue to use these platforms for a variety of different reasons, despite all of their concerns. Not very many people would drive their car if something was wrong with it until they fixed it. It would not be 80 percent, that is for sure. Why is it any different with social media users and their accounts? While it might seem nonsensical to compare vehicle safety to privacy, it isn’t. Consumers simply do not think of privacy as a safety issue – even though it is. As a society, we do not value privacy the way it needs to be valued. The good news is that the ITRC believes the 2020 trends around identity theft, data privacy and cybersecurity will include more conversations around the safety issue that is created when we do not fully understand when our privacy is violated, or what that even means. Perhaps 2020 will be the year where we don’t just say we care about our privacy but actually behave in a manner that supports it.

Data Breaches at the Forefront

As in years past, data breaches were also at the forefront in 2019. We saw too many of them as a result of open databases. Best Western recently experienced a data breach from an open database that exposed over 21 million government records. Choice Hotels and Adobe also experienced similar breaches in 2019. It is something that could continue to happen in 2020 because more businesses are moving to cloud-based databases. Many times the security of the database relies on the inherent security settings, which may or may not be robust, rather than custom security settings. We also saw numerous data breaches from credential stuffing in 2019. Some Disney+ users saw their accounts sold online after hackers were able to infiltrate their accounts and change the passwords to lock out account owners before posting the credentials online for others to use or buy. Earlier in the year, it was TurboTax announcing a data breach that was caused by credential stuffing. Consumers need to watch out for data breaches and account hacks from credential stuffing in 2020. They will need to take the steps to protect their privacy (change usernames and passwords, use strong passwords, etc.) for us to see fewer of these types of breaches and lessen their impact. It’s ITRC’s hope that the conversations around privacy issues will help decrease the incidents of data breaches and account hacks based around credential stuffing and grow to be fewer in the years to come.

ITRC is Here For You

Predictions are only an educated guess that are based on previous events and information. Industries, policymakers and the public will have to wait and see how the 2020 trends for identity theft, cybercrime and data privacy play out. Regardless of what happens in 2020, the ITRC will be here, working to fight back against the techniques scammers will be using to commit identity theft and supporting victims through the process of regaining their identities.


Contact the Identity Theft Resource Center for toll-free, no-cost assistance at 888.400.5530. For on-the-go assistance, check out the free ID Theft Help App from ITRC.

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