Cyber Security and Identity Theft

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 2012 the IC3 received and processed 289,874 complaints, averaging more than 24,000 complaints per month. The IC3 reports that 114,908 of these complaints involved a dollar loss, and puts total dollar losses at $525 million. The most common complaints received in 2012 included FBI impersonation email scams, various intimidation crimes, and scams that used computer "scareware" to extort money from Internet users.

 

CYBER CRIME COMPLAINTS, 2008-2012 (1)

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

Source: Internet Crime Complaint Center.

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TOP TEN STATES FOR CYBER CRIME, 2012 (1)

Rank State Percent
1 California 13.41%
2 Florida 7.98
3 Texas 7.22
4 New York 5.70
5 New Jersey 3.81
6 Pennsylvania 3.70
7 Illinois 3.50
8 Virginia 3.30
9 Ohio 3.05
10 Washington 2.72

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

Source: Internet Crime Complaint Center.

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Consumer Fraud and Identity Theft

The increase in online shopping in recent years has created new avenues for identity thieves. However, a study by Travelers Insurance of its 2011 identity claims found that burglary and theft of physical objects led to the majority of identity theft claims. The study identified the following five top causes of identity fraud:

  • Burglary and theft of a wallet, purse, personal identification or computer (73 percent)
  • Online or data breach (15 percent)
  • Forgery (10 percent)
  • Change of address/postal fraud (2 percent)

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 1.8 million complaints received in 2011, 55 percent were related to fraud, 15 percent were related to identity theft and 30 percent were for other consumer complaints. The FTC identifies 30 types of complaints. In 2011, for the 12th year in a row, identity theft was the number one type of complaint among the 30 categories, accounting for 279.2 thousand complaints; followed by debt collection with about 180.9 thousand complaints. Internet services, with about 81.5 thousand complaints, ranked sixth.

 

IDENTITY THEFT AND FRAUD COMPLAINTS, 2011-2013 (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.

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HOW VICTIMS' INFORMATION IS MISUSED, 2013 (1)

Type of identity theft fraud Percent
Government documents or benefits fraud 34%
Credit card fraud 17
Phone or utilities fraud 14
Bank fraud (2) 8
Attempted identity theft 7
Employment-related fraud 6
Loan fraud 4
Other identity theft 24

(1) Percentages are based on the total number of complaints in the Federal Trade Commission’s Consumer Sentinel Network (290,056 in 2013). Percentages total to more than 100 because some victims reported experiencing more than one type of identity theft (16% in 2013).
(2) Includes fraud involving checking and savings accounts and electronic fund transfers.

Source: Federal Trade Commission.

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IDENTITY THEFT BY STATE, 2013

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 74.7 3,610 14 Montana 50.1 509 40
Alaska 52.2 384 37 Nebraska 51.6 965 39
Arizona 91.2 6,043 7 Nevada 97.1 2,708 4
Arkansas 62.1 1,839 29 New Hampshire 51.9 687 38
California 105.4 40,404 3 New Jersey 80.6 7,176 12
Colorado 79.6 4,195 13 New Mexico 69.4 1,448 19
Connecticut 69.4 2,496 19 New York 86.9 17,072 9
Delaware 81.1 751 11 North Carolina 67.8 6,679 24
Florida 192.9 37,720 1 North Dakota 32.1 232 50
Georgia 134.1 13,402 2 Ohio 64.8 7,502 26
Hawaii 37.8 531 48 Oklahoma 60.0 2,309 34
Idaho 49.5 798 43 Oregon 60.3 2,370 33
Illinois 85.9 11,069 10 Pennsylvania 70.0 8,943 18
Indiana 58.5 3,845 35 Rhode Island 60.6 637 31
Iowa 40.4 1,248 46 South Carolina 70.7 3,374 17
Kansas 61.6 1,783 30 South Dakota 33.4 282 49
Kentucky 50.1 2,201 40 Tennessee 68.8 4,468 22
Louisiana 69.3 3,204 21 Texas 88.0 23,266 8
Maine 38.5 511 47 Utah 49.3 1,429 44
Maryland 95.5 5,660 6 Vermont 43.7 274 45
Massachusetts 63.3 4,237 27 Virginia 73.1 6,037 16
Michigan 97.1 9,606 4 Washington 68.0 4,739 23
Minnesota 53.8 2,917 36 West Virginia 60.6 1,124 31
Mississippi 74.7 2,233 14 Wisconsin 63.3 3,635 27
Missouri 67.0 4,052 25 Wyoming 49.6 289 42

(1) Population figues are based on the 2013 U.S. Census population estimates.
(2) Ranked per complaints per 100,000 population. The District of Columbia had 147.9 complaints per 100,000 population and 956 victims. States with the same ratio of complaints per 100,000 population receive the same rank.

Source: Federal Trade Commission.

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