Identity theft hits an all-time high: are you protected?

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Are you safe from identity theft or other financial fraud from someone assuming your identity? You may think everything is perfectly fine and that no one is using your identity to open up new credit cards, commandeer debit cards, or take over your financial accounts, but if you haven’t checked your credit report lately, you may be in for an unnerving surprise.

In fact, identity theft, fraud, and other financial cyber crimes hit an all-time high in 2016, according to new reports. What’s even more frightening isthat instances of identity theft, often through massive cyber attacks, is still rising in 2017.

In 2016, there were an estimated 15.4 million victims of ID theft and fraud.

That’s a 16% increase in the number of victims from 2015 or an additional 2 million people affected by ID fraud.

Since there are about 250 million American adults, that means 1 in every 16 is victimized by ID theft.

Remember that those statistics cover just one year. But 1 in every 10 Americans has already been a victim of identity theft.

That adds up to 1.6 million households that have had banks accounts, credit cards, and debit cards compromised.

About 50% of all victims realize that their identity has been stolen within 3 months.

But about 15% don’t learn of their ID theft for four years or longer!

64% of ID theft improprieties and fraud involve stolen credit card accounts.

34% involve misuses of bank accounts and debit cards.

And 14.2% of cases involve a misuse of other personal financial information.

Under the broad umbrella of ID theft, there were significant changes in the methods and technology for criminals. For instance, in 2016 we saw a 40% increase in Card-Not-Present (CNP) fraud, which is not at levels double fraud at Point of Sales (POS).

Another metric within the world of ID theft is ATO (Account Takeover). In 2016 we saw a 61% spike in financial losses due to ATO, an increase of $2.3 billion from consumers.

In fact, ID theft victims lost an average of $263 to get their accounts back, which is 5 times higher than average in past years.

Another huge sector of ID theft is New-Account Fraud, or NAF. Instances in NAF soared in 2016, with apprehending and prosecuting criminals extremely rare. In fact, 15% of NAF victims first discovered fraud by reviewing their credit report, which often was months or even years after the fraudulent account was initiated.

Even scarier, about 13% of NAF victims didn’t know someone had opened an account in their name until they were contacted by a debt collector.

64% of Americans are “very or extremely concerned” about being victims of identity theft.

Each year, about $221 billion is lost to identity theft, with an average of $4,841 lost by each victim.

There are four main demographics of identity fraud victims:

  1. Consumers that are off line (not compromised over the web) are exposed to less risk, but incur higher average losses than other fraud victims. On average, they take about 40+ days to detect fraud has taken place.
  2. Social networkers reveal way too many details about their life on social media accounts and other digital platforms, which exposes them to ID theft. This group is subject to a 46% higher risk of account takeover fraud.
  3. Consumers who shop online a lot are also at a higher risk compared to other victims, as their sensitive financial data is compromised during the e-commerce transaction. However, this group also detects fraud quickly, with 78% of victims being alerted within a week of the theft occurring.
  4. A more general group of consumers who frequently connect from their smart phones, tablets, apps, and even desktop computers are at risk. Whether they’re online just to shop, use social media, or browse websites, these causal users are 30% more likely to be victims of ID fraud. Interestingly, a higher proportion of these consumers are female.

But do you want to know the most disturbing statistic? An estimated 43% of ID theft victims actually knew (or encountered) the person who stole their identity!

Resolving identity theft and fraud is not easy, either.

At least 70% of victims have a difficult time removing negative items due to the ID theft from their credit reports.

47% of victims have trouble getting new credit or a loan as a result of ID theft.

11% of victims report that the effect of ID theft impacts their ability to get a job.

The average consumer takes 330 hours to clean up their credit and clear their name from ID theft. But there have been cases where victims spent 5,840 hours to fully indemnify the damage from ID theft – which is about the same as working a full-time job for two years!

 

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