Each month, the Identity Theft Resource Center compiles an in-depth breakdown of the types of identity theft that victims reported through the 24-hour toll-free call center, the ITRC website, or other means of connecting with the organization.
The purpose of these statistics is to help produce a clear picture for law enforcement and policymakers about the prevalence of the different forms that identity theft can take. For the month of the November, there were nearly five hundred contacts made to the ITRC for identity theft assistance. As always, the chief complaint was financial identity theft, a crime which most people typically associate with loss of identity or personal identifiable information.
Financial identity theft, as the name implies, occurs when someone uses your sensitive information to open new lines of credit or new accounts, or uses existing accounts that belong to you. Of the total volume of calls last month, 62.7% of them had to do with this type of crime, which was a slight increase over October’s volume of financial identity theft cases.
The second place position has continually been held by government identity theft, which accounted for 26.5% of the call volume. While a slight drop from October’s stats, this crime is particularly troublesome due to its ability to impact you in the long-term, and to have possible criminal consequences. When someone uses your information to apply for government benefits, get a job, or file a fraudulent tax refund in your name, any of those issues can cause lasting damage and can even lead to a warrant for your arrest if the situation qualifies.
Internet takeover, an often-overlooked form of identity theft, was once again the third highest cause for victim assistance. While many seem to view locking someone out of his or her internet accounts as the stuff of high school pranksters, the reality is that losing control of your online accounts can have serious consequences. Apart from the ability to spend money in your name after commandeering your accounts, thieves can also impact your work by interfering with business-related emails, can change your passwords to prevent you from gaining access to important functions of your tech, and can even impact your families through social media accounts.
There was one ray of light in the fact that medical identity theft and child identity theft both dropped at least one full percentage point over the previous month’s numbers. Both of these types of identity theft are particularly horrible, as they can affect your healthcare and the treatment you receive, as well as cause years’-long havoc for an unsuspecting child.
One truth about these statistics remains nearly universal, and that’s the every call that comes into our center is a sign of hope. While headway is being made in educating consumers about the various types of scams and frauds that can impact their identities, thieves are working to stay one step ahead of law enforcement and advocacy groups. For this reason it is important for the ITRC Call Center to remain increasing the amount of calls it takes and victims it helps in order to fight back.