Not many people realize how commonplace and dangerous identity theft is — hence where our identity theft statistics come into play. Identity theft uses someone else’s identity, either for monetary benefits or to get around a legal barrier. It is becoming one of the most common crimes in the US and has evolved significantly over the years, primarily thanks to the internet.
In this article, we’ll take a deeper dive into the very intricacies of identity theft, including the exact number of cases, the amount of money lost due to this practice, and more.
So, if you want to find out more on this topic, keep on reading!
Top 10 Key Facts & Identity Theft Statistics for 2021
- In 2020 there were over 1.4 million identity theft complaints in the US.
- Due to identity fraud, American consumers lost $56 billion in 2020.
- 86% of global consumers were victims of identity theft, credit/debit card fraud, or a data breach in 2020.
- 33% of all fraud attacks in Europe are linked to identity theft.
- The most targeted victims of identity theft in 2020 were people between 30 and 39 years.
- Online identity theft statistics show there was a 19% decrease in data breaches in 2020.
- The identity theft protection service industry is expected to grow by 1.5% in 2021.
- Kansas had the highest number of reports of identity theft per capita in 2020 – 1,483 reports per 100,000 residents.
- In 2020, the most common type of cybercrime was phishing.
- 2.5 million deceased identities are stolen each year.
Identity Theft Statistics for the US
How many identity thefts happen in the US every year?
1. In 2020 there were over 1.4 million identity theft complaints in the US.
In 2020, the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) received 4.8 million identity theft and fraud reports, i.e., 45% more compared to 2019.
Likewise, identity theft complaints witnessed an increase of 113% in 2020, making 29% of all complaints (1.4 million).
2. Identity theft statistics by state report that Kansas had the highest number of complaints about identity theft per capita in 2020 — 1,483 reports per 100,000 residents.
43,211 Kansans were the victims of identity theft in 2020. When we compare the number of victims in 2019, there is a growth of a staggering 1,801.9% (there were 2,272 identity theft victims in Kansas in 2019).
Next in line was Rhode Island, with 1,191 in 100,000 reports per capita, and Illinois (1,066 in 100,000).
3. Due to identity fraud, American consumers lost $56 billion in 2020.
These shocking identity theft stats report that identity theft scams alone cost Americans $43 billion in 2020. Most of these scams were robocalls and phishing emails. Similarly, traditional identity fraud was responsible for the loss of $13 billion.
4. There was a 19% decrease in data breaches in 2020.
In 2019 there were 1,362 data breaches, as per identity theft statistics (2019). Yet, in 2020 the number of breaches amounted to 1,108.
In a like manner, there was also a 66% decrease in individual breaches.
5. There was a 78% increase in supply chain-related identity theft crimes.
Identity thefts that leverage supply chains (whether by hijacking updates or corrupting software) to obtain end-users information increased over the years. Today, this presents the underlying weaknesses of online retail forums and e-stores.
6. Based on the FBI identity theft data, in 2020, the most common type of cybercrime was phishing.
Phishing cases (sending email posing as a legitimate institution to trick people into giving personal information) almost doubled since 2019, amounting to 241,324 (114,702 in 2019).
Furthermore, 74% of organizations in the US were successfully phished in 2020. That’s 14% more than in 2019, and 30% more than the global average.
7. 96% of phishing attacks are carried out by email.
Mail identity theft statistics report that in Q4 2020, the most common email subject lines were related to unusual Twitter logins, health benefits changes, or IT. Big company names such as Amazon and Zoom were also used for the purpose.
The most impersonated brands in Q4 2020 were Microsoft (43%), DHL (18%), LinkedIn (6%), and Amazon (5%).
8. Identity theft statistics show one-fifth of all US citizens are looking to enroll in an identity theft monitoring service to protect themselves against COVID-19 scams.
According to a survey on COVID-19 scams, 20% of people in the US are likely to join an identity theft monitoring service to shield themselves from the rising number of COVID-19 scams.
9. Curious facts about identity theft report 2.5 million deceased identities are stolen each year.
Naturally, deceased individuals make for the best cover since they can’t be alerted of any infractions or criminal activities happening with their IDs.
10. Wholesale trade employees have the highest chances of experiencing phishing.
Healthcare & pharmaceuticals is the industry that cybercriminals get attacked the most when it comes to companies with 1–249 employees. Next in line are education and manufacturing.
Regarding the industries with 250–999 employees, construction companies are at the highest risk of being phished, followed by healthcare & pharmaceuticals, and business services.
For industries with 1,000+ employees, technology companies are most likely to be attacked by cybercriminals, followed by healthcare & pharmaceuticals, and manufacturing.
Identity Theft Statistics by Country
What’s the state of identity theft on a global scale? How does the world cope with identity theft and fraud? Here are some recent stats and facts.
11. 86% of global consumers were victims of identity theft, credit/debit card fraud, or a data breach in 2020.
Due to the pandemic, there was an increase in online shopping, and 51% of consumers noticed that phishing activities became more frequent.
This resulted in consumers being more careful when it comes to e-commerce sites. In other words, 54% of shoppers used only reputable brands’ sites, and 23% used social media to inspect the brands.
12. Based on the identity theft statistics for Canada (2019), 4,683 people were the victims of identity theft.
(Statista) (Statista) (iPolitics)
The identity theft rate in 2019 amounted to 12.46 incidents per 100,000 residents.
In the first ten months of 2019, there were 680 data breaches of businesses. In other words, 28 million Canadians were affected in one way or the other.
In 2019, the total number of identity fraud incidents amounted to 19,664 — 3,816 more cases than in 2018.
13. 1 in 4 Aussies has been the victim of identity fraud, as per identity theft statistics for Australia (2019).
The most targeted types of information included someone’s name, bank account information, credit card details, address, and date of birth.
Since the start of the pandemic, there has been a 55% increase in identity theft.
14. In 2019, identity fraud cases in the UK went up by 18%.
In 42% of cases, the criminal obtained the details about the victim’s debit or credit card. 22% of the incidents involved disclosing data about the bank account. Overall, most incidents happened online.
Identity theft statistics for the UK also revealed that 38% of Brits were “fairly concerned” аbout becoming victims of online identity theft, and 29% were “very concerned.” At the same time, 20% of respondents were “not very concerned,” whereas 12% were “not at all concerned.”
15. 33% of all fraud attacks in Europe are linked to identity theft.
(GRC World Forums)
When it comes to identity theft, the rates are highest in the UK (53%), Ireland (50%), Denmark (45%), Netherlands (42%), and France (39%). Overall, identity theft statistics worldwide suggest that this type of fraud is more common in Western European countries.
On the other hand, Cyprus, Bulgaria, Hungary, and Estonia are the countries with the lowest identity theft rate.
Almost half of identity theft attacks in Europe are made by email and phone (39%). Other attacks include online ads (5%), text messages (4%), and social media platforms (3%).
Identity Theft Statistics on Victims
Who is most likely to fall victim to identity theft?
16. The most targeted victims of identity theft in 2020 were people between 30 and 39 years.
Millennials are more likely to become the victims of identity theft than other age groups. In 2020, they reported 306,090 cases of identity theft.
40–49-years old were next in line, with 302,678 reported cases. 244,183 Americans between 50 and 59 years of age also had their share of complaints. 20–29-year-olds filed 190,916 cases, whereas 60 to 69-year-olds became victims in 123,112 cases. Finally, 70–79-years-olds were involved in 39,009 cases.
Identity theft statistics from 2020 show Gen Z (under 19) and the Silent Generation (over 80) had the smallest number of reported cases, 23,651 and 9,915, respectively.
19. New York identity theft cases increased by 85% compared to 2019.
(News Today) (Office of the New York State Comptroller)
Based on the New York identity theft data, white females between 35 and 64 have a higher percentage of becoming identity theft victims than men.
The same data shows that only 7% of identity theft victims informed the police about the crime, whereas 88% reported the incident to the bank or a credit card company.
20. According to FTC identity theft statistics, government benefit applications were the most common identity theft type in 2020.
32% of identity thefts were linked to government benefits applied for/received (394,324 reports), 29.7% were associated with credit card frauds, i.e. new accounts (365,597 reports).
Furthermore, 22.9% of identity thefts were miscellaneous identity thefts (281,434 reports), while 7.3% of thefts were related to tax fraud.
Identity Theft Facts and Projections
What can we expect in the near future?
21. According to estimates, about 5,233 IoT devices are hacked every month (successfully or not).
(My ID Care)
Internet of Things (IoT) devices are the new best friend of ID thieves and hackers.
Still, that doesn’t mean you can turn a blind eye to the old-school method — dumpster diving. Dumpster diving identity theft statistics show that 13% of Americans dumpster dived. Besides the physical (going through someone’s trash can), dumpster diving can also be used by hackers (going through recycling bins and electronic waste bins).
Hackers can find many useful things by using this method, such as email address or domicile address, cell phone numbers, private passwords, PINs, digital signatures, etc.
22. A significant number of identity theft cases involve people you know.
Javelin Strategy and Research published a report on identity theft stating that some 550,000 identity theft victims had their ID stolen by someone they knew.
23. IRS identity theft statistics show that between 2015-2019 the number of identity theft victims among taxpayers decreased by 80%.
By ceasing the verified identity theft returns, the IRS managed to protect $26 billion in fraudulent refunds. Apart from that, financial industry partners restored another $1.7 billion in fraudulent refunds.
24. The IRS does NOT initiate contact with taxpayers via email.
(Internal Revenue Service)
If you do not wish to become a part of identity theft statistics, don’t provide your details to suspicious emails coming from the IRS as it does NOT interact with people via this channel, even when one tries to evade taxes.
Neither does it reach out to taxpayers using text messages, social media channels, nor does it ask for sensitive personal and financial information.
25. The identity theft protection service industry is projected to grow by 1.5% in 2021.
As more and more people recognize the importance of identity theft protection, the protection services market is growing. It currently amounts to $3.2 billion, and it’s expected to grow by 1.5% this year.
How to prevent identity theft?
There are numerous safe practices you can adopt to prevent yourself from falling prey to identity theft:
- Stronger passwords, unique IDs, and not registering on shifty websites. Also, change your passwords frequently. Use two-factor authentication for sensitive accounts, especially when connected to unsecured/public WiFi.
- Don’t keep your social security card on your person. Only provide your SSN to trustworthy entities, and ask how it’s going to be protected. Shred your hardcopy documents containing your SSN before discarding them.
- Keep checking your credit card statements. If you find a transaction you don’t recognize (no matter how small), trace it. If your credit card is indeed compromised, freeze it instantly.
What is the most common identity theft?
In 2020, government benefits applications were the most common type of identity theft. There were 394,324 reports which accounted for 32% of all reported cases of identity theft.
Credit card frauds came in second, with 365,597 reported cases (29.7%), followed by 281,434 reported cases of miscellaneous identity thefts (22.9), and 99,667 reported cases of business/personal loan frauds (8.1%).
7.3% of identity thefts were associated with tax fraud (89,391 reported cases).
How many cases of identity theft were there in 2020?
Out of 4.8 million identity theft and fraud reports in 2020, 1.4 million complaints were linked to identity theft. Identity theft complaints made 29% of all fraud complaints in 2020.
Since the start of the pandemic, the number of identity theft complaints increased by a staggering 113%.
Kansas, Rhode Island, and Illinois were the states with the highest rates of identity theft per population.
How many identities are stolen each year?
Each year 1 in 20 Americans becomes a victim of identity theft. The numbers have been on the rise and 2020 was a record year, with 1.387,615 reports (a 113% increase).
To be more specific, in 2018, there were 444,344 identity theft reports in the US. In 2019, the number reached 650,523 (a 46% increase).
Final Takeaway on Identity Theft Statistics
If there is one thing you need to take away from this collection of identity theft statistics, it is that you can never be too careful with your data and information, especially online, and especially during the coronavirus pandemic, which increased our online presence.
The shifting trends of identity theft and our own dependence on the internet mean we must take extra precautions. So, be careful how you handle your personal information, whether it be online or offline.
- Consumer Affairs
- GRC World Forums
- IBIS world
- Internal Revenue Service
- Javelin Strategy
- My ID care
- News Today
- Office of the New York State Comptroller