ID theft

Facts

An unwelcome side effect of living in a high-tech cyber world, ID theft is one of the few crimes that's on the rise these days.

Some stats - mostly from the Federal Trade Commission - on how bad (or not bad) ID theft has gotten.

Definitions

Although ID theft means different things to different people (and different statisticians), the FTC (pdf) breaks ID theft into three categories:

  • "New Accounts and Other Frauds' ID Theft": Basically, using someone else's ID to open a credit card, take out a loan, get medical care, rent apartment or commit a crime.

  • "Misuse of Personal Accounts": your identity is safe, but your cash is gone - including from credit card and bank accounts.

Number of cases a year

In 2003, according to the FTC, 10 million Americans (4.6% of adults) experienced some kind of identity theft, including:

  • 3.25 million cases of personal info used to open an account, and

  • 6.75 million cases of other misuses of personal accounts:

In 2005, according to a report from Javelin Strategy & Research, the number of ID thefts dropped to 3.7% of American adults.

Note: The Department of Justice's numbers differ, putting the number of ID theft cases in 2004 at just 1.1 million cases. DOJ

Costs of ID theft:

FTC

  • Total: $36.7 billion;

  • For businesses: $32.9 billion (average of $10,200 a case);

  • For individuals: $3.8 billion (average of $1180 a case).

Costs of other misuses of personal accounts:

FTC

  • Total: $52.6 billion;

  • For businesses: $47.6 billion (average of $2100 a case);

  • For individuals: $5 billion (average of $160 a case).

Time it takes victims to correct:

FTC

  • ID theft: 60 hours;

  • Other account misuses: 15 hours.

Who's doing the thieving:

WSJ

  • someone the victim knows: 26% of cases

  • computer hacker: 2% of cases

Other resources

Updated February 11, 2007

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