Identity Theft and Cybercrime

THE SCOPE OF IDENTITY THEFT

The 2016 Identity Fraud Study, released by Javelin Strategy & Research, found that $15 billion was stolen from 13.1 million U.S. consumers in 2015, compared with $16 billion and 12.7 million victims a year earlier. In the past six years identity thieves have stolen $112 billion.

Following the introduction of microchip equipped credit cards in 2015 in the United States, which make the cards difficult to counterfeit, criminals focused on new account fraud. This type of fraud more than doubled and now accounts for 20 percent of all fraud losses. New account fraud occurs when a thief opens a credit card or other financial account using a victim’s name and other stolen personal information.

IDENTITY THEFT AND FRAUD COMPLAINTS

The Consumer Sentinel Network, maintained by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), tracks consumer fraud and identity theft complaints that have been filed with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies and private organizations. Of the 3.1 million complaints received in 2015, 16 percent were related to identity theft.  Identity theft complaints increased by more than 47 percent from 2014, they were the second most reported after illegal debt collection. The FTC identifies 30 types of complaints. In 2015 debt collection complaints displaced identity theft in the top spot among complaint categories for the first time in 16 years, due in large part to a surge in complaints related to unwanted debt collection mobile phone calls.

  

Identity Theft And Fraud Complaints, 2012-2015 (1)

(1) Percentages are based on the total number of Consumer Sentinel Network complaints by calendar year. These figures exclude "Do Not Call" registry complaints.

Source: Federal Trade Commission, Consumer Sentinel Network.

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How Victims' Information Is Misused, 2015 (1)

Type of identity theft fraud Percent
Government documents or benefits fraud 49.2%
Credit card fraud 15.8
Phone or utilities fraud 9.9
Bank fraud (2) 5.9
Attempted identity theft 3.7
Loan fraud 3.5
Employment-related fraud 3.3
Other identity theft 19.2

(1) Percentages are based on the total number of complaints in the Federal Trade Commission’s Consumer Sentinel Network (490,220 in 2015). Percentages total to more than 100 because some victims reported experiencing more than one type of identity theft.
(2) Includes fraud involving checking, savings, and other deposit accounts and electronic fund transfers.

Source: Federal Trade Commission, Consumer Sentinel Network.

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Identity Theft By State, 2015

 

State Complaints per
100,000 population (1)
Number of
complaints
Rank (2) State Complaints per
100,000 population (1)
Number of
complaints
Rank (2)
Alabama 102.3 4,973 30 Montana 87.2 901 43
Alaska 94.3 696 40 Nebraska 100.5 1,905 34
Arizona 133.8 9,136 14 Nevada 125 3,613 19
Arkansas 97.7 2,911 37 New Hampshire 142 1,890 9
California 141.3 55,305 10 New Jersey 125.8 11,266 17
Colorado 123.2 6,724 21 New Mexico 101.1 2,109 33
Connecticut 225 8,078 2 New York 122 24,157 23
Delaware 124.9 1,181 20 North Carolina 106 10,646 29
Florida 217.4 44,063 3 North Dakota 76 575 48
Georgia 149.1 15,230 7 Ohio 134.4 15,611 12
Hawaii 62.6 896 50 Oklahoma 120 4,695 24
Idaho 101.3 1,676 32 Oregon 126.1 5,081 15
Illinois 158.7 20,414 5 Pennsylvania 116.2 14,877 25
Indiana 93.9 6,217 41 Rhode Island 141.2 1,491 11
Iowa 89.7 2,803 42 South Carolina 102.3 5,010 30
Kansas 112.7 3,282 27 South Dakota 63.1 542 49
Kentucky 80.9 3,581 46 Tennessee 107.9 7,121 28
Louisiana 94.4 4,410 39 Texas 144.3 39,630 8
Maine 113.9 1,514 26 Utah 85.7 2,567 44
Maryland 183.2 11,006 4 Vermont 83.9 525 45
Massachusetts 125.5 8,530 18 Virginia 123.2 10,329 21
Michigan 158.1 15,684 6 Washington 126.1 9,043 15
Minnesota 97.8 5,368 36 West Virginia 79.9 1,474 47
Mississippi 98.8 2,955 35 Wisconsin 134.4 7,756 12
Missouri 364.3 22,164 1 Wyoming 96.6 566 38

(1) Population figures are based on the 2015 U.S. Census population estimates.
(2) Ranked by complaints per 100,000 population. The District of Columbia had 228.0 complaints per 100,000 population and 1,533 victims. States with the same ratio of complaints per 100,000 population receive the same rank.

Source: Federal Trade Commission, Consumer Sentinel Network.

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CYBERCRIME

As businesses increasingly depend on electronic data and computer networks to conduct their daily operations, growing pools of personal and financial information are being transferred and stored online. This can leave individuals exposed to privacy violations, and financial institutions and other businesses exposed to potentially enormous liability if and when a breach in data security occurs.

Interest in cyber insurance and risk continues to grow as a result of high-profile data breaches and awareness of the almost endless range of exposure businesses face. A 2016 data leak, called the Panama Papers in the media, exposed millions of documents from the electronic files of Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseka. In 2015, two health insurers, Anthem and Premera Blue Cross, were breached, exposing the data of 79 million and 11 million customers, respectively. The U.S. government has also been the target of hackers. Recent breaches at the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and the Internal Revenue Service follow multiple breaches in May 2015 of the Office of Personnel Management and the Department of the Interior where the records of 22 million current and former U.S. government employees were compromised.

Cyberattacks and breaches have grown in frequency, and losses are on the rise. In 2014 the number of U.S. data breaches hit a record 783, with 85.6 million records exposed, not counting Yahoo’s 2014 breach, announced in September 2016, which affected over 500 million users and was suspected of being a state-sponsored attack. The number of breaches in 2015 was about the same at 781, but the number of records exposed doubled to about 169 million. The majority of the data breaches in 2015 affected medical/healthcare organizations (66.7 percent of total breaches) and government/military (20.2 percent), according to the Identity Theft Resource Center. These figures do not include the many attacks that go unreported. In addition, many attacks go undetected. Despite conflicting analyses, the costs associated with these losses are increasing. McAfee and the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) estimated the likely annual cost to the global economy from cybercrime is $445 billion a year, with a range of between $375 billion and $575 billion.

The costs of cybercrime are growing. An annual study of U.S. companies by the Ponemon Institute cites estimated average costs at $15 million in 2015, up 21 percent from $12.7 million in 2014. These costs ranged among the 58 organizations surveyed from a low of $1.9 million to a high of $65 each year per company. Cyber insurance evolved as a product in the United States in the mid- to late-1990s as insurers have had to expand coverage for a risk that is rapidly shifting in scope and nature. More than 60 carriers offer stand-alone policies in a market encompassing $2.75 billion in gross written premiums in 2015. By mid-2016 gross premiums written was estimated at $3.25 billion.

 

Number Of Data Breaches And Records Exposed, 2006-2016

(1) As of September 27, 2016.

Source: Identity Theft Resource Center.

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Cybercrime Complaints, 2011-2015 (1)

(1) Based on complaints submitted to the Internet Crime Complaint Center.

Source: Internet Crime Complaint Center.

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Top 10 States By Percent of Total U.S. Cybercrime Victims, 2015

Rank State Percent
1 California 14.53%
2 Florida  8.47
3 Texas 7.67
4 New York 6.30
5 Illinois 3.51
6 Pennsylvania 3.31
7 Virginia  3.14
8 New Jersey 3.01
9 Washington 2.72
10 Ohio 2.69

(1) Based on the total number of complaints submitted to the Internet Crime Complaint Center via its website from each state and the District of Columbia where the complainant provided state information.

Source: Internet Crime Complaint Center.

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FOR MORE INFORMATION OR TO REPORT A COMPLAINT:

Federal Trade Commission

Internet Crime Complaint Center