• According to the FBI’s annual report on cybercrime, in 2016, nearly 300,000 cybercrime reports were filed with the FBI. The total impact of the cybercrimes was $1.5 billion. 
  • In late 2020, the number of crimes reported more than doubled to almost 800,000. The rate of loss skyrocketed to $4.2 billion, a 180 percent increase. 
  • However, despite the cybercrime increase, the IC3 Recovery Asset Team scored an 82 percent success rate in helping victims recover money transferred to criminals. Nearly $380 million was restored to victims of cybercrime. 
  • To learn about recent data breaches, consumers and businesses should visit the ITRC’s new data breach tracking tool, notified.  
  • For more information, or if someone believes they are the victim of identity theft, consumers can contact the ITRC toll-free at 888.400.5530 or via live-chat on the company website www.idtheftcenter.org.  

Since Noah Was a Sailor 

Welcome to the Identity Theft Resource Center’s (ITRC) Weekly Breach Breakdown for March 26, 2021. Each week, we look at the most recent and interesting events and trends related to data security and privacy. This week we look at the FBI’s annual report on cybercrime, highlighting a significant cybercrime increase. It’s been 21 years since the Bureau’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) was formed to track cybercrime.  

That’s almost as long as the commercial internet has been in existence, or as Shakespeare would put it in Twelfth Night, “since Noah was a sailor.” That is the title of this episode as we look at the long-term trends in cybercrime. 

Changes in Cybercrime 

It’s not particularly instructive to compare cybercrime in 2000 to 2021. It is safe to say that there is a cybercrime increase. Far more cybercriminals commit exponentially more fraud today than when people still had to dial-up their internet connection with a modem. Anyone who remembers doing so is hearing that sound right now in their head. 

What is more helpful is to look at the last five years of data from the FBI. We apologize for listing many numbers and asking everyone to visualize the magnitude of the changes in half a decade. However, the numbers speak for themselves.  

Cybercrime in 2016 

In 2016, Captain America: Civil War was the top box office grossing movie, and Game of Thrones was the undisputed ratings champ on television. The Denver Broncos won the Super Bowl, the Chicago Cubs won a World Series for the first time in 108 years, and nearly 300,000 cybercrime reports were filed with the FBI.  

The total impact of the cybercrimes was $1.5 billion. The number one complaint (81,000 of them) was when someone ordered a product on the internet and did not receive it, or a merchant did not receive payment for a product sold over the web. 

Data breaches were the second-highest complaint at 27,000 reports, followed by phishing, extortion and identity theft with just under 17,000 complaints. 

Cybercrime in 2020 

Fast forward to the end of 2020, with much of the world still on pandemic lock-down. Many people are doing the bulk of their work and business transactions online. 

The number of complaints more than doubled – from nearly 300,000 to almost 800,000. The same can be said of the rate of loss. $1.5 billion in 2016 turned into $4.2 billion in 2020 – a 180 percent increase in losses attributed to cybercrime. 

Where non-payment or non-delivery of goods was the number one complaint five years ago, in 2020, it was phishing in all its various forms. 19,000 reports in 2016 grew to more than 241,000 phishing attacks against businesses and individuals due to the cybercrime increase. Losses attributed to 19,000 business email compromises (a subset of phishing) totaled more than $1.8 billion last year alone. 

IC3 Team Help Victims 

There is some good news in the FBI’s annual cybercrime report around the cybercrime increase. The IC3 includes a team assigned to help victims under certain circumstances recover money transferred to criminals. In 2020, the Recovery Asset Team scored an 82 percent success rate, restoring nearly $380 million to cybercrime victims. 

Contact the ITRC 

If anyone has questions about keeping their personal information private and how to protect it, they can visit www.idtheftcenter.org, where they will find helpful tips on these and many other topics. 

If someone thinks they have been the victim of an identity crime or a data breach and needs help figuring out what to do next, including when to report a crime to IC3, they should contact us. People can speak with an expert advisor on the phone, chat live on the web, or exchange emails during our normal business hours (6 a.m.-5 p.m. PST). Visit www.idtheftcenter.org to get started.  

Be sure to check out the most recent episode of our sister podcast, The Fraudian Slip. We will be back next week with another episode of the Weekly Breach Breakdown.