Identity Theft Facts and Figures

The Federal Trade Commission puts out a yearly report about identity theft through the Consumer Sentinel Network, an online database of all identity theft complaints available only to law enforcement to help fight identity theft. The report began in 1977 and is backed by the FBI, Defense Department, the US Secret Service, and many international agencies.

Identity Theft Facts and Figures from 2008

The most common use of a stolen identity was credit card fraud. 20% of all complaints regarding identity theft were due to criminals opening credit card accounts in the name of the victim. The second most common use of identity fraud was manipulating government documents. This involves forging documents such as passports, licenses or filing for false benefits such as insurance or workers compensation. Using a stolen identity to commit employment fraud comprised about 15% of all identity theft complaints. In this case, a criminal uses the stolen identity to get a job. 13% of identity fraud complaints involved phone and utilities, where the thief would use the stolen identity to open a cell phone, heating, or electrical account. Using the stolen identity to commit bank fraud and loan fraud comprise 11% and 4% of all fraud complaints. Electronic fund transfer identity theft was one of the most often reported types of bank fraud during 2008.

Cost to Consumers

Identity theft facts and figures from 2008 show what each form of identity theft costs the victim. There were approximately 11,000 reported cases of Bank or ATM debit theft costing victims upwards of $32M. Check fraud amongst 6,000 complainants cost these victims approximately $82M. Credit card fraud was submitted by 22,500 victims at a cost of $45M. And the most costly fraud of all, wire transfers, cost upwards of $139M.

Identity Theft and Law Enforcement

While the penalties for identity theft have gotten quite harsh, many victims refuse to make a statement to the police. As a matter of fact, 65% of all individuals who are victims of identity theft never file a police report. 27% percent of victims actually filed a report at the police department, while 6% of victims notified the police and a report was not taken. These identity theft facts and figures tell us that as a rule, the police do take identity theft seriously. And while the criminals have very sophisticated means of stealing identities, law enforcement has also become quite high tech and can catch a thief half way across the country.

Where You Live

Identity thieves tend to target those areas of the nation that are fairly wealthy and relatively high tech. In 2008, the Brownsville-Harlingen area in Texas had the most identity theft complaints per capita. This was followed by the Napa and Madera areas of California. Looking at states, Arizona had the most complaints per 100,000 people followed by California, Florida, Texas and Nevada. The states with the least amount of complaints about identity theft were North and South Dakota.

The FTC keeps an excellent record of identity theft facts and figures. These statistics give us all an idea of how prevalent and costly identity theft can be.