Identity theft continues to be a major problem for individual consumers and organizations every year, resulting in billions of dollars in financial losses. If you become a victim, it can easily wreak havoc on your personal finances as well as your life in general.
Identity Theft Statistics in Recent Years
Identity theft is a type of crime that involves the use of illegally obtained information, such as your full name, address, social security number, credit card details, and more, to commit fraud and gain financial benefits. When this happens, the criminals get to enjoy the spending power of your credit while you are left paying the bills.
Identity theft takes center stage in the realm of cybercrime. While malware, like ransomware, gains more attention, identity theft continues to rake in easier money. According to surveys, the number of identity theft cases in the United States decreased by at least 15 percent last year. From 16.7 million victims in 2018, the numbers dropped to 14.4 million last year. While this may initially seem like good news, the identity theft victims actually bore a heavier financial burden that more than doubled from 2016. Moreover, 14.4 billion is still a huge number. Considering the kind of damage that identity theft can do to a person’s life, falling victim to this crime is a very traumatic experience.
The most prevalent method of identity theft in previous years as credit card fraud, occurring in 41% of all identity theft cases. This is when someone uses another person’s credit card or account to make transactions that are not authorized. This type of fraud can happen any time and anywhere, especially as the world continues its march toward making all things digital. So even when your physical credit card is safely kept inside your wallet, your information still runs the risk of being exposed on the internet.
Similarly, with more people and organizations moving away from their desktops and using their mobile phones for various credit transactions, mobile account takeovers continue to rise. This type of identity theft happens when cybercriminals gain unauthorized access to financial accounts via the manipulation of a person’s mobile devices. In 2019, mobile account takeovers accounted for 679,000 incidents and resulted in over $4 billion in losses.
Identity Theft Statistics in 2020
The year 2020 marks the transition to a new decade, and it is forecasted that these cybercrimes will continue to increase exponentially in the years to come. With how new businesses are being done, new processes being rolled out, and more people taking to the internet to do their business, online fraudsters have indeed identified their opportunities and gotten to work.
Highly targeted social engineering scams are forecasted to still be the number one type of identity theft that will plague many consumers and organizations this year. This type of fraud is increasing and alarmingly becoming a common occurrence.
A whole new range of mechanisms and tricks to commit fraud is being reported to authorities, and many financial agencies are keeping an eye on the patterns of fraud. Many of the fraudsters are calling and posing as health care providers, government workers, and even bank representatives to commit fraud. Their solicitations range from fake charities soliciting financial help for patients to false claims of cures and vitamins to fight off a certain disease. Of course, all these deceptive advertising are made in an effort to deceive the victims into divulging personal data, including their banking information and passwords.
Additionally, some of these identity thieves continue to send out emails for their solicitations. The email messages may ask you to hit reply or direct you to a link that contains malicious software that plants cookies and trackers into the computer. Oftentimes, the links also direct the victims to a fraudulent website that spoofs legitimate public health resources and asks them to provide the needed personal information, such as credit card numbers and passwords.
Despite the numerous warnings from the Federal Trade Commission, various government regulators, and financial agencies about these types of scams, many people still fall for them.
Other Identity Theft Predictions
Every year, new categories of identity theft are being introduced, as old methods are effectively eliminated. As trends continue to change, similar changeovers are happening in the threat landscape. Here are other types of identity theft predictions for this year:
Child Identity Theft. One type of identity theft that continues to gain traction every year is child identity theft. This type of fraud occurs when someone uses a child’s SSN to open credit accounts, take out loans, or even apply for a job. This type of crime can go undetected for years and is affecting as many as 10% of children and young people in the United States.
Deep Fake Technology. With cybercriminals becoming more adaptive to new waves of security controls, it is predicted that we will see the early signs of Deep Fake this year. This kind of technology can go through biometric proofing. This includes mimicking the human voice, which is already being used to attack call centers, as well as simulating people in videos to digitally verify security authentication.
Data breaches. Data breaches continue to grow not only in frequency but also in scale and sophistication. This type of fraud was showing a steady increase throughout the entire year of 2019, and this trend looks set to continue into this year. In fact, the total cost of data breaches is forecasted to increase to up to 70 percent over the next five years – from $3 trillion in 2019 to over $5 trillion in 2024.
As people and organizations continue to develop and make exciting advancements in security measures every year, the identity thieves just seem to be always a step ahead. These criminals are very busy working in coming up with new schemes to solicit important personal information from unsuspecting victims. Therefore, it is crucial to remain vigilant, educate yourself about identity fraud statistics and facts, and regularly check for warnings. If you think you are a victim, immediately work with the FTC to get on the road of taking your life back together.