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 database, maintained by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), contains over 10 million consumer fraud and identity theft complaints that have been filed with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies and private organizations from 2010 to 2014. In 2014 over 2.5 million complaints were filed.

Of the 2.5 million complaints received in 2014, 60 percent were related to fraud, 13 percent were related to identity theft, and 27 percent were for other consumer complaints. The FTC identifies 30 types of complaints. In 2014, for the 15th year in a row, identity theft was the No. 1 type of complaint among the 30 categories, accounting for 332,646 complaints, followed by debt collection, with 280,998 complaints. Internet services, with 46,039 complaints, ranked tenth.

  

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 per 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.

In 2000 the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the National White Collar Crime Center and the Bureau of Justice Assistance joined together to create the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) to monitor Internet-related criminal complaints. In 2014 the IC3 received and processed 269,422 complaints, averaging about 22,500 complaints per month. The IC3 reports that 123,684 of these complaints involved a dollar loss and puts total dollar losses at over $800 million. The most common complaints received in 2014 involved auto and real estate fraud and government impersonation email scams.

Interest in cyber insurance and risk has grown in 2014 and 2015 as a result of high-profile data breaches, including a massive data breach at health insurer Anthem that exposed data on 78.8 million customers and employees, and another at Premera Blue Cross that compromised the records of 11 million customers. The U.S. government was targeted by hackers in two separate attacks in May 2015 that compromised the personnel records of as many as 14 million current and former civilian government employees. A state-sponsored attack against Sony Pictures Entertainment, allegedly by North Korea, made headlines in late 2014.

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. At 781 in 2015, the number of breaches was about the same, but the number of records exposed doubled to about 169 million. The majority of the 781 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.

 

Number Of Data Breaches And Records Exposed, 2006-2016

(1) As of July 7, 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 For Cybercrime, 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 complaints submitted to the Internet Crime Complaint Center via its website.

Source: Internet Crime Complaint Center.

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FOR MORE INFORMATION OR TO REPORT A COMPLAINT:

Federal Trade Commission

Internet Crime Complaint Center