We’ve witnessed tremendous advancements in the digital world. But as our digital tools grow powerful, so does the threat from cybercriminals. Identity theft, especially, has grown rampant over the years. It’s risen steadily across the globe, and many identity theft protection applications have been launched to curb this trend.
In this article, we’ll go over 14 identity theft statistics that may help you determine whether you need protection. If you choose to opt for it, you can read our guide to the best identity theft protection to find the right software for yourself.
1. There’s a new identity theft victim every two seconds
It’s an understatement to say that cybercrime is increasing rapidly. The fact that every two seconds there’s a new victim of identity fraud is testimony to this. In the US alone, there were close to 1.4 million reports of identity theft in 2020. What’s more shocking is that it’s more than twice the number of reports from 2019.
2. Social media users are at a 46% higher risk
Social media users are more likely to experience fraud compared to those who aren’t active on these platforms. As exciting as it may feel to be active on social media, cybercriminals too are actively seeking targets through these platforms.
This particularly applies to users active on Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat, who are at a 46% higher risk of identity theft. The popularity of a platform doesn’t guarantee foolproof safety. For example, during the Cambridge Analytica scandal of 2018, around 50 million accounts on Facebook had their data compromised.
3. 40% of fraud happens within 24 hours of account takeover
Improvements in technology are making it easier for cybercriminals to gain unauthorized access to people’s online accounts. Without a powerful security application, users may not even realize that their data has been compromised. This is dangerous, seeing how 40% of fraud happens within 24 hours of account takeover.
4. Kids are more likely to be identity theft victims than adults
Children and teenagers often lack financial experience and are not cautious about the websites they visit and the data they share online. This makes them 51 times more likely to face identity theft compared to an adult.
If a cybercriminal obtains a child’s social security number, they can open several lines of credit that can go unnoticed for years. By the time the child is grown up and ready to open credit lines, they may have colossal debts waiting to be paid off.
5. More than 1 million children in the US experienced identity theft in 2017
Cybercriminals value a child’s data over an adult’s because there’s no existing record and it’s easy to create a new identity and open a line of credit. Since children now leave digital footprints earlier than they used to, they’re also more susceptible to identity theft. 2017 saw over 1 million children in the US facing identity theft, resulting in a loss of $2.6 billion.
6. Consumers lost more than $1.9 billion to identity theft in 2019
Consumers reportedly lost over $1.9 billion due to identity theft and fraud in 2019. Compared to 2018, this was a 28% increase in losses. The median amount the victims lost in these cases was $320.
7. More than one in four older adults are victims of identity theft
An older adult refers to individuals aged 55 and above, and more than one in four in this category have been a victim of identity theft. One reason for this could be that older adults are often not tech-savvy, and are unable to distinguish an authentic website from a fraudulent one. Another reason could be difficulty in remembering passwords and using the same password across all websites, which makes it easier for cybercriminals to acquire access.
8. 33% of US respondents have been victims of identity theft
A 2018 report from Proofpoint found that 33% of US respondents had experienced identity theft. This was more than three times that of German and French respondents, and more than twice the global average. Turns out, US respondents also shared their social check-ins more than other global users, and this meant they were exposing more of their information to cybercriminals.
9. Stolen credit card data could be sold for 50 cents per card
Cybercriminals sell credit card data for as low as $0.50 per card on the dark web. Considering how much financial damage this can do, it’s astonishing to see the price at which such sensitive information is available. Cards that had more details, like the CVV number, were more expensive, sometimes going up to $0.45 per card.
10. Credit card fraud tops identity theft
2019 saw credit card fraud topping the list of identity theft reports. The Federal Trade Commission received over 271,000 reports from individuals who stated that their information was illegally used to open new credit card accounts, or that their existing account was misused.
11. 50% of US adults think cybercriminals won’t target individuals with poor credit
An online Experian survey in 2017 found that 50% of US adults believed that identity thieves wouldn’t target individuals with poor credit records. This, however, is far from the truth. The number of identity theft cases has been rising steadily, and this means even people with poor credit can be at risk.
12. 87% of consumers haven’t secured private information online
A report from Symantec saw that 87% of consumers had left their private information exposed online while accessing their email or important financial information.
Furthermore, 60% of consumers felt safe using public Wi-Fi, which means that these consumers don’t realize the dangers of accessing personal information on public channels. Not surprisingly, most users weren’t using a virtual private network (VPN) to secure their online information.
13. The global average cost of a data breach is $3.86 million
A 2020 report from IBM Security showed that around the world, the average data breach costs $3.86 million. Additionally, having a remote workforce increased the average cost of a data breach by $137,000.
14. 45% of victims feel a lack of trust in family members
Handling identity theft swiftly is crucial, but it’s also essential to handle the emotional turmoil this event can cause. The Identity Theft Resource Center published a study in 2018 that suggested that over 45% of identity theft victims felt a lack of trust in their family members after experiencing identity theft.
All these statistics about identity theft might feel overwhelming, but unfortunately, the threat is real. These cases of cybercrime are likely to increase as more of our transactions move online, and we can’t simply expect it to not happen to us.
By taking the right precautions, we can ensure security for our private data and information. Cybercrime is expensive, and general alertness while operating in the digital space is essential. To seriously bolster your security against identity theft, you must use identity theft protection.