The Identity Fraud Report released by Javelin Strategy & Research in February 2017, showed identity fraud reached new highs in 2016. Overall fraud incidents rose 16 percent to affect 6.15 percent of U.S. consumers, up from 5.30 percent in 2015 — the highest on record. The study also found that there were two million more victims than in 2015 and the amount the fraud thieves took was one billion more raising losses to $16 billion.
Identity Theft Trends
The 2017 Identity Theft Fraud Study found these significant identity theft trends:
- Record high incidence — In 2016, 6.15 percent of consumers became victims of identity fraud, an increase of more than 2 million victims from the previous year.
- Card-not-present (CNP) fraud rises significantly — The growth of e-commerce fraud is a result of increased online purchases which dramatically increased the prevalence of CNP fraud by 40 percent. Fraud at the point-of-sale (POS) remained essentially unchanged from the 2014 and 2015 levels.
- Account takeover bounces back — After reaching a low point in 2014, both account takeover incidence and losses rose notably in 2016. Total ATO losses reached $2.3 billion, a 61 percent increase from 2015, while incidence rose 31 percent. Account takeover continues to be one of the most challenging fraud types for consumers with victims paying an average of $263 out-of-pocket costs and spending a total of 20.7 million hours to resolve it in 2016 — 6 million more than in 2015.
- New-account fraud continues — As EMV cards and terminals continue to permeate the point of sale environment, fraudsters shift to fraudulently opening accounts that allow them. At the same time, fraudsters have become better at evading detection, with new-account fraud (NAF) victims being notably more likely to discover fraud through review of their credit report (15 percent) or when they were contacted by a debt collector (13 percent).
Top Ten States for Identity Theft Complaints per 100,000 Population in 2016
What is the best protection against identity theft?
- Shred sensitive documents that display personal information, such as pay stubs, bank statements, credit card statements, and pre-approved credit card offers.
- When making online purchases, only share your credit card information on secure websites that display the yellow padlock icon in the bottom margin of your browser (below the web page area).
- Create strong passwords that are ideally at least 8 characters long with one lowercase letter, one uppercase letter, one number, and one non-alphanumeric character. Change them often.
- Check your credit card and bank statements for unauthorized transactions.
- Check your credit report regularly so you can quickly catch and resolve any unauthorized accounts or activities.
The dramatic increase in identity theft last year can be disheartening but don’t let those sobering statistics keep you from being proactive when it comes to preventing ID theft. We are our own best defense, before and after the fact. Protect your personal information and keep a close watch on your financial statements and credit reports.