The Identity Theft Resource Center has an ongoing mission to help the public with identity theft. Whether it’s serving as a lifeline to victims or keeping up with important data for law enforcement and policymakers, the ITRC is one of the organizations at the forefront of the identity theft fight.
One of its most effective tools is its 24-hour, toll-free call center, which lets victims reach out to a representative for help at any hour of the day. The ITRC logs these calls in a statistical report each month in order to establish a clear picture of the types of identity theft that are causing the most concern.
For the month of April 2016, there was some good news: the calls that were made to the help center were very standard in their breakdown of identity theft crime. While financial identity theft—the use of credit cards, bank accounts, and other similar financial accounts in your name—is always the most common identity theft complaint, it came very close to dropping to second place in other months this year. Why? Because tax return fraud (government identity theft) had risen so sharply that it almost ousted the top spot. With the April tax filing deadline behind us, government identity theft has dropped back down to its usual percentage.
Be warned, however: just because April’s incidences of tax return fraud are less than they have been in 2016 doesn’t mean the public is out of the woods yet. There is still plenty of time for scammers to convince their would-be victims that their tax return was not received, was not properly filed, or in some way did not meet regulation. That leaves the door open for scammers to demand immediate payment, request the victim’s Social Security number for “verification” purposes, and more.
April was a month of “second place” for all other forms of identity theft, as medical identity theft, child identity theft, internet takeover, and criminal identity theft all had their second highest percentage of calls for the year last month.
Medical identity theft remained almost as high as March’s percentage of calls, which was significantly higher than January or February. One possible reason? Health insurance coverage starts over in January, meaning insured individuals have not yet met their deductibles for the year. If the victim suddenly finds himself with a full out-of-pocket bill, there’s a better chance he’ll notice it and take action. After consumers have had a few office visits—especially during the winter cold season—thieves know they may be more likely to overlook a few charges here and there, and therefore have less cause to report the fraud.
Child identity theft had an increase over March and was at its second highest percentage for the year, but was still almost half of what it was in February. Internet takeover and criminal identity theft didn’t experience any significant changes, with only a minor increase to put both of those categories at their second highest percentages for the year.
Anyone can be a victim of identity theft, anyone can use our services, and anyone can help us help others. If you found this information useful, please consider donating to the Identity Theft Resource Center to help us keep our services free to the public.