By Mark Pribish –
In February of each year, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) releases an annual report on identity theft and fraud complaints called the Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book.
The 2013 report (http://www.ftc.gov/reports/consumer-sentinel-network-data-book-january-december-2012) reflecting 2012 statistics reported Identity theft is once more the top complaint received by the FTC.
In addition, 2012 marked the first year in which the FTC received more than 2 million complaints overall, and 369,132, or 18 percent, were related to identity theft. Of those, more than 43 percent related to tax payer ID Theft and fraud.
The report gives national data, as well as a state-by-state accounting of top complaint categories and a listing of the metropolitan areas that generated the most complaints. This includes the top 50 metropolitan areas for both fraud complaints and identity theft complaints.
One of the more interesting findings is that the mature market (50 years and older) represents 36 percent of all ID Theft victims thus making it the single largest demographic of ID Theft victims.
The FTC report also included the following highlights:
- 36 percent of individuals at 50 years of age and older are victims of ID Theft
- 49 percent of individuals 50 years of age and older are victims of fraud
- For the 12th year in a row, identity theft complaints topped the list
- Nearly 25 percent of the identity theft complaints related to tax or wage-related fraud
- The top 5 states for ID theft in order were Florida, Georgia, California, Arizona, and Texas
- Children 19 and younger represent 8 percent of all victims
- Victims spend numerous hours straightening out their lives following an incident of identity theft
- Online identity theft is popular, with a target demographic of individuals between 20-29 years of age, who are posting information online
- Data breaches at organizations are happening more frequently
- Phishing emails are at an all-time high
- For military consumers, Identity Theft was the number one complaint category
In addition, Javelin Strategy & Research released its 2013 Identity Fraud Report (https://www.javelinstrategy.com/news/1387/58/More-Than-12-Million-Identity-Fraud-Victims-in-2012) last February and reported that 12.6 million Americans were victimized of ID theft in 2012.
While ID Theft has been in the news over the last decade, the total number of 12.6 million ID Theft victims last year was the second-highest total since the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) began counting victims in 2003 and nearly 1 million more than 2011, according to Javelin Strategy and Research. As a side note, the record of 13.9 million ID Theft victims took place in 2009.
Last year’s Javelin Strategy report had four key findings including the following:
- Identity fraud incidents and amount stolen increased – the number of identity fraud incidents increased by one million more consumers over the past year, and the dollar amount stolen increased to $21 billion, a three-year high but still significantly lower than the all-time high of $47 billion in 2004. This equates to 1 incident of identity fraud every 3 seconds.
- 1 in 4 data breach notification recipients became a victim of identity fraud – this year, almost 1 in 4 consumers that received a data breach letter became a victim of identity fraud, which is the highest rate since 2010. This underscores the need for consumers to take all notifications seriously. Not all breaches are created equal. The study found consumers who had their Social Security number compromised in a data breach were 5 times more likely to be a fraud victim than an average consumer.
- Fraudsters misuse information fewer days than before – consumer information was misused for an average of 48 days in 2012, down from 55 days in 2011 and 95 days in 2010. Misuse time was down for all types of fraud including fraud on cards, loans, bank accounts, mobile phone bills and other types of fraud due to consumer and industry action. More than 50 percent of victims were actively detecting fraud using financial alerts, credit monitoring or identity protection services and by monitoring their accounts.
- Small retailers are losing out – fraud victims are more selective where they shop after an incident, and small businesses were the most dramatically impacted. The study found that 15 percent of all fraud victims decided to change behaviors and avoid smaller online merchants. This is a much greater percentage than those that avoid gaming sites or larger retailers.
Finally, AMAC Members can go to three great online resources for consumer ID Theft education and protection tips including:
Identity Theft Resource Center (http://www.idtheftcenter.org/artman2/publish/c_guide/Solution_16.shtml)
Privacy Rights Clearinghouse
FTC ID Theft Consumer Page
Mark Pribish is an ID Theft Risk Management Expert